While not all competitors at this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will return home with a much-coveted gold medal hanging around their neck, there will be another piece of jewellery available at the games that will be far easier for athletes to get their hands on.
A new ring created by Visa will allow individuals to move around the city, paying for items by simply swiping their hand over the payment terminal instead of having to carry credit or debit cards – although Visa cards will still be acceptable. The ring, which does not require batteries or recharging (and instead draws just enough power from the payment terminal to complete the transaction), uses Visa token technology and includes a secure microchip made by Gemalto and features an embedded NFC-enabled antenna.
Security is understandably tight during an olympics and athletes are often burdened by multiple ID tags, security passes and electronic keys, so this new innovation means that athletes trying to focus on a potentially career-defining event have one less thing to remember. In addition, rigorous training regimes, tight timetables and the events themselves mean that athletes often have to perform multiple clothing changes in a day, resulting in the increased possibility of an athlete leaving their wallet in their other pair of jogging bottoms.
Any concerns over security are alleviated by the fact that if the ring is lost or stolen the user can deactivate it via the accompanying smartphone app. The rings are also water resistant to a depth of 50m so athletes won’t have to remove them whilst showering (thus helping to reduce the chances of loss or theft), and our very own triple swimming world champion Adam Peaty will even be able to make a payment straight from the pool! However, when swimming there is of course the possibility that rings will slip off fingers and all-in-all people tend to lose jewellery more often than they do their wallets – so it’s open to debate as to whether the ring represents a greater risk when it comes to loss or theft and it will probably come down to individual preference.
Handed out to 45 ‘Team Visa’ olympians, including four-time gold medallist swimmer Missy Franklin, the rings will effectively be on a beta test at the games, conducted in an open but controlled environment and, if successful, the Visa ring may well be rolled-out to the mass market in due course. While contactless card payments have proved very handy for some people, the Visa ring has the potential to take things to the next level – negating the need to even take out your wallet when paying for items.