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Ann WilkinsonOct 17, 2022 9:13:23 AM3 min read

Open vs closed mobile wallets - which is best?

In this post, we compare closed wallets to open wallets using the sports industry as a use case. 

The US sports industry underwent a huge transformation during Covid when the majority of major league teams went cash-free. The trend towards cashless payments was already underway of course, albeit at a slower pace. The first team to do so was Tampa Bay Rays back in 2019. Today, the vast majority of teams in the NFL, MLB and MBA are cashless, accepting mobile wallets a payment method.

Yet, choosing to accept mobile payments as a cashless payment option isn’t the only choice pro sports teams have to make. A key decision is whether to implement mobile payments by taking the closed or open wallet route.

Whilst some US pro sports teams and stadiums have implemented open mobile wallets, others have invested in closed wallets. We’re also seeing sports teams who have previously implemented open wallets, choose to invest in a closed wallet further down the line.

Both systems offer contactless payments, speedy transactions and shorter, faster moving lines at point of sale. So what are the key difference between these two types of mobile wallets and why would you choose one over the other? Let’s take a closer look at these two options.

Closed wallets

Closed wallets are mobile wallets which can only be used to pay for items with the issuing merchant. In the US sports industry, Tappit’s technology powers numerous teams' closed wallets including Kansas City Chiefs, the San Diego Padres, Sporting K.C., San Antonio Spurs and Cincinnati Reds. 

Open wallets

Apple Pay, Google Pay and Revolut are all examples of popular open wallets. These types of mobile wallets can be used to pay for purchases at any card accepting merchant locations.

This comparison table shows the key differences between open and closed mobile wallets.

Image-Closed-and-open-wallets-A-comparisonFrom a merchant perspective, open mobile wallets have two major drawbacks:

  • You don’t gain any data insights from transactions made via your mobile app. The data is only visible to the open wallet provider.
  • You’re unable to incentivise behaviour through loyalty programmes or rewards.

The importance of having access to and control over your customer data can not be underestimated. There are a host of use cases now demonstrating the value of customer data - to increase revenue and reduce operational costs. San Diego Padres, for example found that once they implemented Padres Pay (Tappit’s white-label mobile wallet) there was a 25% average increase in spend per fan by users of Padres Pay compared to Stadium Per Cap.

Advantages of closed mobile wallets

From a merchant perspective, closed mobile wallets carry the following advantages:

  • Capture first party transaction data on your customers. Customer insights, buying habits, most popular items, crown movement, mobile marketing campaign ROI and more.
  • Internal payment processing which can lower merchant costs.
  • Increase in customer loyalty through integration of loyalty schemes, reward programmes and your existing venue and finance partners.
  • Simplicity. White-label mobile wallet solutions are fairly simple to integrate with your existing systems. The Tappit Mobile Pay solution for example, just requires an upgrade to your existing POS.
  • Increased spend - Making spending effortless increases fan spend. Some of our clients have seen uplifts of in excess of 60% spend per fan.
  • Increase value for your sponsors. Know who your VIPs are and how best to target them.
  • Totally understand your fans – gather data on your customers’ spending journey with you, then utilise this to drive fan engagement, customer retention and profit.

From a customer perspective,  it’s the prospect of loyalty and reward incentives, delivered just at the right moment which are the real pull. 


Tappit's mobile wallet, a white-label solution offers more than just contactless payments for sports venues. Our platform enables you to have contactless payments, venue access control and loyalty programmes all in a branded mobile ecosystem.

If you’re thinking about implementing a mobile pay solution in your business then we’d then just get in touch with us to discuss how Tappit's technology can take your sports venue to the next level.


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