Visa will use a group of 45 Olympic hopefuls in Rio to test a new payment wearable that takes the form of a ring and can be used to make contactless payments at all Olympic venues.
The credit card giant’s Games sponsorship affords it the rights to manage “the entire payment system infrastructure and network throughout all venues including stadiums, press centres, point-of-sale (POS), the Olympic Village and Olympic Superstores.”
This will cover the rollout of approximately 4000 NFC-enabled POS terminals that are capable of accepting mobile and wearable payments.
However it will be only a select few athletes along with staff and partners that can make use of these terminals with a patented NFC-enabled ring.
The ring contains a Gemalto chip and embedded NFC-enabled antenna, but does not require a battery or recharging.
Engadget reported that the ring draws enough power from the payment terminal to enable each transaction.
It is said to be “water resistant to a depth of 50 metres”, presumably allowing it to be worn by swimmers should they wish to do so when racing.
Visa said the ring also uses token technology to increase user safety. It means sensitive credentials do not need to be stored in the ring.
“Visa’s token technology replaces sensitive payment information, such as the 16-digit account number, with a unique digital identifier that can be used to process payments without exposing actual account details,” the payment provider said.
In use, Engadget’s reviewer found the ring somewhat hit-and-miss owing to its design, meaning it might take some practice to pay the first time you hover your hand over an NFC-enabled terminal.
There was no indication of when Visa might offer the rings as a wearable payment system for use by the general public.
Payment infrastructure is but one system that will make up the IT infrastructure for the Games, which run August 5 to 21 in Rio de Janeiro.
Technology providers behind the IT systems are touting the Games’ “digital transformation” credentials, and have just completed 200,000 hours of system tests to prove they are ready.
The tests covered “nearly 1000 pre-defined operational scenarios, including a flood, network disconnection, power failures, changes to the competition schedule and security attacks, across the 22 Olympic venues.”