UOB card spending surged by 35% during Taylor Swift concert week, over $30m spent on tickets

UOB card spending surged by 35% during Taylor Swift concert week, over $30m spent on tickets
PHOTO: The Straits Times file

Card billings at UOB-acquired merchants surged 35 per cent week on week over Mar 4 to Mar 10, when four of six of Taylor Swift's The Eras Tour concert events took place in Singapore.

UOB-acquired merchants are those who have chosen the bank to process credit and debit card transactions for them.

According to first-quarter data released on Monday (Mar 25), spending across almost all tourism-related categories experienced a marked surge led in spending at clothing retailers (85 per cent), transportation and travel (80 per cent), and amusement and entertainment (over 50 per cent).

Hotels rang in nearly 45 per cent growth in UOB card billings, while food and beverage (F&B) receipts rose more than 30 per cent.?

Spending across multiple categoriesat the Marina Bay precinct and the Central Business District that are close to the Singapore Sports Hub - where Swift's concerts were held - also outperformed national levels, the bank said.

In November 2023, UOB said it will aim for two global partnerships in the entertainment space every year, as it taps the segment to drive acquisition and spending across its retail business.

Jacquelyn Tan, head of group personal financial services at UOB, said in November that apart from spending on entertainment, another benefit of the segment is that it can lead to spending in other key pillars of the bank's retail business - shopping, dining and travel.

The bank's credit and debit cardholders had spent more than S$30 million purchasing The Eras Tour tickets with Singapore-registered cards comprising almost 75 per cent of total billings, UOB said.

Malaysia contributed to over 10 per cent of billings, while Thai and Indonesian fans snagged over 5 per cent each.

Almost a third of UOB cardholders who purchased tickets to the event used cards issued outside of Singapore. Nearly 40 per cent of these cardholders were previously Citigroup customers who were onboarded as part of UOB's acquisition of Citi's consumer banking franchise in the region.

An almost 120 per cent month-on-month spike in UOB card application volumes was reported from Jun 21 to Jul 7 in 2023. This marked the period starting from the announcement of Swift's The Eras Tour concerts in Singapore, until the end of the general on-sale period.

New-to-card customer applications grew over 75 per cent over the same period, while new-to-bank applications increased over 50 per cent in terms of primary credit card applications.

UOB also reported a four percentage-point growth for credit card applications among 25- to 29-year-olds.

Notably, the period in which card application volumes surged coincided with The Eras Tour's pre-sale event in Singapore, which was available exclusively to UOB customers. All pre-sale tickets sold out on the day of their launch on Jul 5, 2023, with more than a million virtual queue numbers issued within the first 10 minutes.

In the months following the ticketing window, the bank's registered cardholders outside of Singapore who bought Taylor Swift tickets for the event in Singapore spent more on a year-on-year basis with their UOB cards.

The total spending of Malaysian UOB cardholders who bought tickets to The Eras Tour in Singapore grew more than 50 per cent over Jul 1, 2023 to Mar 8, 2024 when compared to the same period the year before.

Thai UOB cardholders' spending surged over 45 per cent on the year.

The bank also noted that card attrition rates remained "stable and low" in the months following the ticketing sales to date - a "clear indication that a significant majority of cardholders, longstanding and new, are seeing the value in (its) cards".?

Earlier in November, Tan noted concerns over the quality of customers acquired through the entertainment pillar, but added that these customers had a "very high" activation rate and decent spending.

The difference between these customers, and those acquired through other means, is in their profile - customers acquired through entertainment are likely to be younger.

But even so, such customers are still spending at the same average level as the rest of their cohort, she said.

Apart from Swift and Sheeran, UOB had a naming partnership for an entertainment venue in Thailand. It also organised a closed-door meet and greet with pop star Jackson Wang, and presales for a music programme in Vietnam, Rap Viet.

This article was first published in The Business Times. Permission required for reproduction.

ALSO READ:?Taylor Swift smashes Disney+ viewing record with Eras Tour film

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