Visa hawks its wares at PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games

26. March 2018.

As a worldwide audience keeps tabs on their favorite Winter Olympics athletes in South Korea, Visa once again is using that stage to showcase emerging payments technology as the official payment service provider for the event, as well as the Paralympics Games.

Visa late last year announced a partnership with Lotte Card, the financial arm of South Korean-based retailer Lotte Department Store, to produce and make new prepaid payment wearables consumers could buy to use at Olympic venues.

Visa’s wearables initiative at the PyeongChang Games continued to illustrate how the card networks have acted more like technology companies than ever before as the payments industry continues to evolve.

“We view these global events as an opportunity to showcase the best of Visa, and where Visa is the exclusive payment service provider, we want to show that the brand is more than just a credit card,” Chris Curtin, chief brand and innovation marketing officer at Visa, told Mobile Payments Today in an email. “For those attending PyeongChang 2018, Visa is creating the most technologically advanced payment system ever at an Olympic Winter Games, unveiling new ways for everyone to pay by creating three wearable devices including the NFC-enabled payment gloves, commemorative Olympic pins and stickers.”

And Visa gets to display these creations in one of the more technologically advanced countries in the world.

South Korea is home to Samsung Electronics and LG Corp, two of the most recognizable smart device manufacturers in the world. Compared with past Olympics that Visa has sponsored, the card network could see higher than usual transactions coming via smart devices.

“Korea is a desirable environment for advanced payment technology, given the prevalence of credit card and smart phone payment usage,” Curtin wrote in the email. “Globally, payment technology is evolving to adopt NFC, and Korea’s adoption will put it in the same company of nations, such as Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong.”

Visa has pushed three distinct wearables during the PyeongChang Games: a commemorative Olympic pin; payment-enabled gloves; and a wearable sticker that users can attach to almost anything. The pin could likely end up as the most sought-after item as collectors have a long-standing tradition of snagging such memorabilia at the Olympics.

One thing Visa is doing different for this Winter Olympics is an interactive shopping experience with NBC, which televises the events in the U.S., and Team USA.

The partnership calls for NBC to direct viewers to the Team USA Gear store on the official NBC Olympics website where Visa is the preferred payment method.

From there, shoppers can use Visa Checkout if they so choose to complete purchases.

“At Visa, we are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to bring seamless commerce experiences to consumers – and we saw this as a unique opportunity to make it easy for fans to cheer on Team USA by creating a brand new shoppable e-commerce experience in partnership with NBC, Fanatics and the USOC,” Curtin wrote.

Visa’s big event sponsorship won’t stop once the Olympics and Paralympics are over.

The card network is also the official service partner for FIFA, which will present the World Cup in Russia later this summer.

Visa said it expects some 500,000 fans will travel to Russia for the slate of soccer matches to determine a new world champion. The card network has been in the process of upgrading payment terminals throughout official World Cup venues to accept contactless cards and digital payments.

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