Visa set to its new payment ring for Olympic athletes in Rio Olympic Games

The summer games in 2016 Rio de Janeiro will see the debut of a sixth Olympic ring. Olympic and Paralympic Games sponsor Visa said Thursday that it will give out NFC-enabled rings that work like prepaid debit cards to the 45 ‘Team Visa’ Olympic athletes it’s sponsoring, that would allow them to make payments around the city with a tap of the finger.

“This is a device packed with all the security Visa provides that’s small and not gaudy to wear,” Chris Dean, senior director of Visa’s innovation and strategic partnerships, said while showing off the device Thursday at a press event in Manhattan. The ring, simply called the “Visa payment ring” for now, won’t be commercially available and instead was created as a test case.

The new ring comes in white or black ceramic, doesn’t require a battery or charging and can be submerged in water to up to 50 meters (164 feet). No passwords or screen is required to use the ring. The payment ring also comes with its own card in cases where the ring is not accepted. The ring also features Visa’s token technology, a design from McLear & Co. that includes a secure microchip made by Gemalto, with an embedded NFC-enabled antenna, and works when the wearer hovers it over the sensor on a card reader. Also, the payment ring can also be deactivated from an accompanying smartphone app.

The ring will be connected to a prepaid Visa account, which can be reloaded online. If it’s lost or stolen, the ring’s account can be changed, the same way Visa closes out a stolen credit card number, Dean said. There’s no specific price for the device, since it’s now only a prototype.

“As an Olympian, rings have a special meaning to me,” says Missy Franklin, four-time Olympic gold medallist swimmer. “The Visa ring is a great innovation that I know all the athletes competing in Rio will enjoy as it will be great to go from a competition to purchase without having to carry a wallet or card.”

Visa is the only card accepted at the Olympics, as it is the exclusive payment provider for the Rio Games. Visa is rolling out around 4000 NFC terminals across Rio venues, enabling fans to make contactless card, mobile and wearable payments. However, the athletes’ rings will function with touch card readers anywhere in the world. The summer games start on August 5th.

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