Visa Strives to Make 2012 Olympics Cashless

Last updated: 17 December 2019

Athletes at the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games can leave their ATM cards at home for 2012. For this one, we’re going cashless.

As you probably know, the Games are always big revenue-generating events, and with that, London is poised to benefit.  According to the MasterCard Global City Index, “London is the hottest city in the world right now and will attract the highest international visitor spend,” with visitors set to spend higher than average per head than visitors to all other cities cited in the report.

As visitors get ready to spend at the Olympic Games, more than 1,000 “key stakeholders and decision makers” have been given a Samsung Galaxy S III (“the Official Phone of the Olympics”) complete with NFC capabilities and Visa mobile payments app.  Those without the phone can still go cashless – every single point of sale within the London Games site to is equipped to receive payment via Visa PayWave contactless technology.  So if your Visa card has the contactless payment logo on the back, you are all set.  And, further pushing a cashless Olympics, Visa has even reduced the number of ATMs available.

Visa’s Mariano Dima said the choice to make the 2012 London Games cashless is to give consumers first-hand experience with contactless and mobile payments, via “a secure, reliable and fast payments infrastructure for the Games and beyond.”

I think Visa’s initiative is a big step forward for payments.  One of the problems with widespread adoption of contactless payments has always been education – consumers simply feel they don’t know enough about the technology to want to give it a try.  That’s why this type of introduction to the technology is a great idea.

Giving a large number of consumers at one of the biggest global events of all time provides the opportunity to try out the payments in a grand scale. This is a great chance to let them see how fast and easy, yet secure, they can be.  London 2012 is set to be the first truly ‘social’ games, with over 900 million of us on Facebook and thousands of tweets every second around the world. Millions of sports fans will be tweeting, sharing and posting about their experience of the event, so we can expect wireless payments to be a topic of discussion and for customers to ask their banks for it when they get home.  This kind of education and hands-on use is of utmost importance if we want to move towards broad adoption of contactless and mobile payments, and maybe someday, a cashless society.

I’m definitely looking forward to a cashless Olympics, and even more looking forward to reading about visitors’ feedback.  We’ll revisit this topic after the event but until then, what do you think – will you be going cashless?