Visa creates ring for wireless purchases at Rio Olympics

Visa is the exclusive payment provider at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in two months time. The company has now unveiled the first payment wearable ring backed by a Visa account. The yet unnamed device will be distributed to a select group of 45 athletes to use for purchases during the games.

The NFC enabled ring, which is still in the prototype stage, will enable users to pay for goods and services by simply tapping the wearable to any contactless payment terminal. The idea is to make it as quick and easy as possible to make a payment.

“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 vice president of innovation and strategic partnerships at Visa Inc.

“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.”

Visa says, unlike many other payment wearables, the ring will not require use of a battery or recharging. Rather conveniently for an Olympian, it is also water resistant to a depth of 50 meters.

“As an Olympian, rings have a special meaning to me,” said Missy Franklin, a four-time Olympic gold medalist and Team Visa athlete.

“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.”

This initiative represents more of a trial run rather than an official launch of the device. There have been a number of crowdfunding projects based around developing NFC payment enabled rings in recent years. We have yet to see one take off in a big way though. Visa has not specified when or if the ring would be available to ordinary consumers.

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