Visa’s Mobile Payments Push Goes for Olympic Gold

July 13, 2016         By: Steven Anderson

The Olympics—whether summer or winter variety—are a great opportunity to build national sentiment, show off athletic prowess, and provide an opportunity for nations to compete in a safe and even enjoyable fashion.

It’s also an opportunity for corporations to show off what they can do, and Visa is making a greater push than ever into the upcoming Rio Olympics.

We’ve seen Visa making some inroads in the Olympics previously, with word coming out back in late April.

Now, some more specific word has emerged, including a new partnership with Swatch to make and release the Swatch Bellamy, a near-field communications (NFC) ready watch that allows customers to pre-load funds and make purchases directly from the watch.

A previously-announced ring will also be in play, working in a similar fashion to the Bellamy watch, and a wristband will join in and round out the entries allowing different levels of functionality.

With these three options in place, and a new partnership with Bradesco—a Brazilian bank—in hand, Visa is offering over 4,000 contactless terminals for users to make purchases in the midst of the Olympics.

This is a bit of a stress test for the system as well; with 4,000 terminals and that many potential users in play, it’s likely to swamp a lesser network altogether. There’s a reason that the first major test of 5G connectivity is set to take place with the 2018 Olympics, and this is likely to be a similar story.

If Visa’s mobile options can come through this test in one piece, however, it’s a safe bet that Visa’s mobile payments systems will be able to do the job for anyone.

Using a reloadable system may take some of the strain off the network, as it only needs to negotiate communications for balance checks. It can even potentially store some of that information locally for a pass / fail sort of authentication.

Only time will tell if Visa’s systems mean Olympic gold or a failure in the making. With so many options, however, Visa’s definitely got a lot to offer, and it may be able to deliver a big win for mobile payments in the end.