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How to process payments for an event

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Last editedMay 20233 min read

Planning an event is always a lot of work, regardless of size, whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned veteran. With so many plates to keep spinning, one of the last things you want to worry about is getting the payments right, so having the right payment processing solution in place will make your life much easier and your event run much more smoothly.

We are moving with haste towards a cashless society, with cash increasingly considered an outdated form of payment. Indeed, around two-thirds of Australians carry and regularly use contactless cards, and over half of our transactions under $100 are made using digital payment technology. So it makes sense for your event to prioritise contactless and digital payment.

Digital payments are faster, more convenient and safer than cash, and cut down on queues and numbers of disgruntled patrons significantly, if used correctly and if the payments system works well.

What makes a great payment processing system for an event?

If you’ve decided to go cashless or at least invest in a cashless solution for your next event, what should you be looking for in a payment processing solution?

Portable hardware

Portability makes a lot of sense for any event, and portable card readers allow vendors and event workers to be more flexible and move between stalls to wherever customers might be. These readers are usually cardless and work over Wi-Fi or mobile data, allowing you to shift sales resources when required.

Payment options

Many event attendees might choose to leave their wallets at home and use either a single card or just their smartphone for payment. For these guests, compatibility with multiple payment methods is paramount. Look for solutions that accept as many card carriers and digital wallet options as possible.

Easy to use

Because an event relies heavily either on temporary staff or employees who might not be trained thoroughly in customer-facing roles, ensuring the system is as simple as possible should be a priority. You should ideally be able to hand mobile card readers to staff, that they can simply offer to customers as contactless or chip and pin transactions either with their credit/debit cards or smart devices. It makes it even simpler if the software allows you to manage permissions by employees too. That way everybody only has permission to access the parts of the system they need.


Payment information needs to be processed securely for your sake and the sake of customers. All providers should include multiple layers of encryption and the ability to closely monitor all transactions and pinpoint potentially suspicious activity.


Be aware of the up front and ongoing costs of whatever solution you decide on for your event. Regardless of whether they charge an account fee, all providers charge a transaction fee to process credit cards. You need to understand what you’re getting for these fees. Do they include the use of bespoke software and product integration? Do they also give you access to a point-of-sale solution? These are all questions you should ask.

Sales tracking

Being able to track customer activity in real time allows you to manage your event more effectively – replenishing stock when required and organising where and when vendors are stationed. A good payment processing solution for events should include real-time data tracking and, if possible, should be able to integrate organically with your data analytical software.

Speed of payment

Particularly if you’re running multiple events every month, you’re going to want your money as quickly as possible. While solutions like PayPal can take up to five days to process, other solutions can take a couple of days or even hours. GoCardless is a pull-based solution that draws money directly from customer bank accounts, meaning payments are pulled and cleared in minutes rather than days.

Customer support

As many of the staff working at your event are temporary, problems will occur. In the event of a problem or malfunction, having a dedicated, comprehensive and reliable customer support framework in place is important. Look for providers that offer a combination of automated and human support, and that have experience in working for events such as yours.


The ability for payment solutions to integrate with ticketing platforms, social media profiles and other events software solutions such as Eventbrite creates smoother and more familiar experiences for your staff and customers. If it’s also compatible with your accounting software (like Xero) and analytical software, that’s always going to be a bonus.

We can help

GoCardless is a global payments solution that helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of financial admin your team needs to deal with. Find out today how GoCardless can help you with one-off or recurring payments and integrate seamlessly with your existing software as part of a payments processing solution for your next event.

Over 85,000 businesses use GoCardless to get paid on time. Learn more about how you can improve payment processing at your business today.

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