Visa & the Japanese Government Team Up to Push Mobile Payments at 2020 Olympics

July 26, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

It might have been easy for some to forget that the 2020 Olympics are next year, especially since they’re hitting in an election year besides, which will likely be one of if not the most contentious the US has ever seen. But the Olympics are a worldwide affair, so there are plenty of other nations eagerly awaiting that outcome. In fact, Visa sent word our way about its own upcoming connection to the Summer Games, which coincides with a Japanese cultural priority shift.

Visa is already readying a slate of new payment experiences for the various people connected with the Olympics—including “athletes, visitors and citizens” alike—which connects wonderfully to Japan’s “Cashless Japan” initiative designed to increase mobile payments (and other digital payments measures) use levels to 40 percent by 2025. Since that number is currently under 20 percent, it’s going to take a concerted effort to push things along in that comparatively short time frame.

To that end, Visa is rolling out several new components to help drive that effort. It’s working to step up acceptance of digital payments, including in places like convenience stores and quick service restaurants (QSRs). It’s connecting the Team Visa athletes like Japanese Olympic hopeful Kanoa Igarashi to the mobile payments concept as well. New technologies will make an appearance looking to “surprise and delight” in innovation, and Visa will also be conducting measurements designed to offer insight on spending and travel range data into the country.

Such measures will definitely help move Visa’s—and Japan’s own—aspirations forward here. By offering access to data, it can help fuel analytics projects in the region and show how vital mobile payments are to generating that data. By improving accessibility and adding use cases, it gives the average Japanese citizen that much more reason to turn to mobile payments systems. After all, what good is the best interface and the safest platform if no one will accept it as payment? The Cashless Japan initiative is ambitious by any standard. But one thing is clear: it will never be met without a concerted effort to drive it forward. By turning to the Olympics for at least moral support, the Japanese government and Visa may have found just the right way to break into current operations