Rio de Janeiro, Aug 20 (IANS) As hundreds of people crowd the official Olympic Games store on Copacabana beach, some, like Joao Nicole, need neither billfold nor credit card because they can pay with a bracelet, a ring or a cellphone.

Visa’s “wearables” are going through a trial by fire at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro before their use begins to expand throughout the region, Efe news agency reported.

Nicole bought some cups decorated with the Olympics Games logo and paid for them at the cash register with the tap of his ring on the little payment terminal.

“It was a very odd experience, paying with the ring here at the Olympics. A new way, very interesting,” the Brazilian medical student said.

“The fact that we don’t have to open our billfolds is very agreeable for us, even more so in Rio, for a number of reasons,” he said.

For the young man, “this system is more practical than a card” because “you don’t have to stick your hand in your pocket, you just tap the ring on your finger to pay the bill”.

Jose Coronel, Visa’s executive director for prepaid products in Latin America and the Caribbean, told EFE that, like any new product, these alternative payment possibilities at first surprise people and arouse “curiosity”, but when the client understands that their function is no different from that of a credit card, they begin to appreciate the idea, whether it’s a ring or a cellphone or a bracelet.

“Why is it a perfect idea,” the director asked, and responded “because not carrying a billfold is a great opportunity for very active people and just right for a place like Rio where they might get it in their head to do exercises on the beach — no, no billfold is needed because with the ring or bracelet they can go to a kiosk on the beach and buy some coconut water.”

The product, he said, “simply modifies the form factor” while “maintaining the same security characteristics” as a credit card.

“Which means that if it’s mislaid, gets lost or is stolen, the owner just goes through the same process as with credit cards.”

“Neither more nor less risk comes with changing the form factor. It continues to be a pretty secure item,” he said.

Visa’s relation with the International Olympic Committee as a sponsor of the Games for the last 30 years “gives us the chance to use the Games as a show window and to measure “not only people’s reactions to wearables but also their technological efficiency”.

The experience premiered in Europe and the bracelets are used in several countries including Spain and Britain.

In Brazil, more than 2 million payment terminals operate with this technology, also used at some 4,000 places in the Barra de Tijuca Olympic Park.

Visa is the official means of payment at the Summer and Winter Olympic Games and at the Paralympics thanks to an agreement struck with the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, in 1986.

At the Rio Olympics, the company sponsors the Visa Team, which includes, among others, 10 athletes who make up part of the team of refugees.


    The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service.

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