Howler sets Bushfire alight with cashless solution

Bushfire Festival steals the hearts of thousands of fans


All photos by Sydelle Willow Smith

Thousands of fire-starters from all over the world brought their fire to Swaziland’s Malkerns Valley for the recent MTN Bushfire, an experience cited by CNN as “one of the top 7 festivals in Africa you cannot miss”.

And they did it cashlessly.

By implementing the Howler cashless system, MTN Bushfire was able to service international attendees; provide after-event cash-outs in different countries; and assist traders in safely and easily transacting large sums.

As you might expect of a three-day event renowned for its eclectic and multi-dimensional programming, and for attracting attendees from all over the world, Bushfire’s are complicated requirements – but Howler met them.

What’s more, as some of Bushfire’s profits go to Swaziland charities, it is critical for the event to minimise wastage, remain profitable, and manage financials with ease and transparency.

Howler’s success at Bushfire took 280 machines and 50 staff. But over 20,000 eager fire-starters didn’t have to queue. Not at the gate. Not anywhere. And once the guests were ready to leave the festival (or go back home), they could cash out their funds. The result? A better event experience.

Product localisation was also key, resulting in Swaziland customers being able to buy tickets using MTM Mobile Money and then cash out leftover balances into their MTN Mobile Money accounts. This was a first in Africa.

In addition, the NFC wristband made it possible to eradicate wristband fraud, because it was impossible to reproduce.

Says Sholto Thorne, Event Director of House On Fire, “We’d worked with Howler before – but on ticketing, not cashless. We decided to go 100% cashless on MTN Bushfire and Howler was the obvious choice for us.”

Thorne goes on, “As Bushfire is set in a remote location, connectivity and reception can be issues. But Howler was able to run the entire solution offline, making this the absolute best system for MTN Bushfire.”

Thorne confirms that Howler’s cashless solution “definitely reduced queues” and garnered “very positive feedback” from festival attendees, so much so that they’ve already begun to “advocate cashless [to other festivals]”.

In a nut-shell, as proven by Bushfire, cashless ticketing and transactions are safer, more resistant to fraud, more convenient, easier to control, and more valuable in terms of the customer data, analysis and insights (into peak times, supply and demand, vendor revenues, and even crew meals) that result.

Shai Evian, Founding Partner of Howler, explains that Howler is “exactly what event organisers need to help their guests experience transactional bliss. We see ourselves as pioneers of the cashless movement in Africa, and will soon be expanding our services from Southern Africa into East and West Africa.”

About Howler

Established four years ago, Howler is the consolidation of several powerful events-and-entertainment platforms, designed at the uppermost technological benchmarks to help consumers and event organisers make moments that matter via cashless transactions and end-to-end ticket handling, distribution and access. It’s also a comprehensive all-in-one event management solution, offering ticket sales, guest lists, registration, event promotion, cashless payments, and employee management – plus rich data to boost event-goers’ experiences and organisers’ decision-making.


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