The Olympics are over… but are they really?

Last updated: 20 March 2014

While the 2012 Olympic Games are now but a distant memory, the buzz and hype certainly aren’t. More than just medals and great athletic performances were created over the summer. Back in July, we told you all about Visa’s efforts to make the 2012 Olympics cashless. Visa gave more than 1,000 “key stakeholders and decision makers” the Samsung Galaxy S III (“the Official Phone of the Olympics”) complete with NFC capabilities and Visa mobile payments app. Visa also equipped every single point of sale within the London Games to receive payment via Visa PayWave contactless technology so visitors and athletes could wave and pay. Now, we’re back to let you know the results.

According to Visa, the cashless Olympics was a great success. Mary Carol Harris, head of mobile at Visa Europe, told the audience at NFC World Congress last week, “We’re pleased with consumers’ response to the technology and have gained many useful insights that will help make contactless a commonplace payment method.”

Here are some of the statistics of NFC and contactless usage during the 2012 Olympics:

– Individuals with the NFC-equipped Samsung phone used their devices to make an average of fifteen transactions

– In the ten weeks leading up to and during the Games, the number of contactless transactions in the UK doubled

– There were six times the number of contactless transactions during Games time as there were during the same period in 2011

– Contactless payments at Olympic venues over the Games period represented 10% of all on-site Visa transactions and 20% of all on-site Visa transactions under €20

– During the Games, the Olympic venues accounted for 15% of contactless transactions in the UK

These results are extremely impressive. It really shows how important education is for boosting the use of NFC and contactless payments. The time Visa spent educating UK consumers and merchants about the technology before the Olympics started resulted in higher usage almost immediately.

I will be keeping an eye out to see if this usage pattern continues in the months after the Olympics – you never know, it could be one legacy of the Games that truly lasts.

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