Why is the Olympics the go-to for trialling payments innovations?

For more than 30 years, Visa has been the exclusive payments sponsor of the Olympic Games and has used the platform to trial and push the use of new, innovative technologies – such as contactless cards at London 2012 or wearables at Rio 2016. With the recent announcement that the international payment network has pledged its commitment to continuing to showcase payments innovation at the biggest sporting event on the planet until 2032, what is it about the Games that makes it the perfect environment for new trialling payment methods?


With 7.5 million tickets made available* for the event that spans just over two weeks, the sheer volume of people attending the Games is unrivalled, meaning new technologies can be tested intensively over a relatively short period of time. For example, at London 2012, 150,000 payments (15% of payments under £20) were made using contactless cards while they were still relatively new. Although this isn’t a huge number, it not only introduced the technology to a vast number of Games-goers, but proved its convenience when making low value purchases.

Looking to the future, Visa is hoping to make the most of the unique opportunity that the Games provides to test innovative security and ticketing solutions, such as biometric authentication for stadium entry and remote digital ticket purchasing, as well as e-commerce options for those viewing from home using augmented reality. It is therefore safe to say that Visa is more than happy with its Olympic trials thus far, and intends to make the most of the huge test group that the Games offers.

*7.5 million tickets were available for the Rio Games