Visa just rolled out the next generation of payments wearables: an NFC-enabled payment ring.
And it's bringing it to the Olympics for the Visa-sponsored athletes to use at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. This is the first prototype of its kind to be backed by Visa.
These NFC payment rings will be used by all Team Visa athletes in Rio, along with 45 Olympic hopefuls from around the world. The ring enables these athletes to make purchases with only their ring at any NFC-capable payment terminal.
“Visa’s first payment ring puts smart payment technology right on the hands of our athletes for convenient and easy payments,” said Jim McCarthy, executive VP of innovation and strategic partnerships at Visa. “This ring is the latest example of how Visa is continuously innovating to deliver on its goal of universal acceptance at the games and across the world.”
The NFC technology enabled ring includes a microchip made by Gemalto, with an embedded NFC-enabled antenna, which is what enables the contactless payment capabilities. But what's unique about this wearable is that it doesn't need a battery or to be recharged. It's also water resistant to a depth of 50 meters.
“As an Olympian, rings have a special meaning to me,” Missy Franklin, a four-time Olympic gold medalist and Team Visa athlete, was quoted as saying in Visa's release. “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 exclusive payment provider of the Olympic Games, and is creating and managing the payment system infrastructure and network throughout all venues, including stadiums, press centers, point of sale, the Olympic Village and Olympic Superstores. Visa will implement approximately 4,000 NFC-enabled POS terminals capable of accepting mobile and wearable payments across key Olympic venues in Rio.
Also this week, Visa demonstrated an advanced prototype version of the Visa payment ring, which uses token technology provided through Visa Token Service.
Last fall, it was reported that Visa was exploring potential payment options for the game, which at the time were noted to include NFC chip-embedded wristbands. Now, however, it appears as though that has switched to rings.