Wednesday, 29 August 2012

London 2012 “invaluable” for showcasing mobile payments

A record number of mobile and contactless payments have been made during the London 2012 Olympic Games, mainly due to Visa’s payments infrastructure, as one of the main sponsors of the London 2012 Games. But also other payment processors rolled out mobile payments options. 

More than 140,000 contactless payment terminals throughout the United Kingdom – including 5000 London taxis and 3000 point of sale locations at Olympic Games venues – have been used during the Olympic Games, one of the largest mobile and contactless payments schemes to date.

Jim McCarthy, Head of Products at Visa, called the London Olympics “a unique opportunity to showcase how technology is changing the way people shop, pay and get paid around the world”. McCarthy said the Games “have demonstrated the future of payments, a future where most consumers will rely on mobile devices, tablets and PCs to manage their daily financial lives.”

Samee Zafar, Director at Edgar Dunn & Co in London, thinks “the Olympics have helped raise its profile.” Although Zafar warns that “to make [mobile payments] reach critical mass, banks and retailers must be committed”, he stresses that “the potential is indisputable.”

Whether “the Olympics mean gold” for contactless payments, “still remains to be seen”, said Nathalie Moreno, Partner at Speechly Bircham in London, “but it has certainly proved to be an invaluable platform to showcase the benefits of the contactless system.” 

'Forcing consumers' to use mobile or contactless payments – like Olympic sponsor Visa  during the Olympics (it was only possible to pay with a Visa card at Olympic venues) “has the advantage of familiarising consumers to the new system and also gives consumers the chance to appreciate the new technology first hand”, said Moreno.

Zafar said: “The parallel I can draw from the Olympics is that just like team GB – with little investment in 1992 they got only one gold and in 2012 with sufficient investment and commitment they secured 29 gold medals – three things are needed to make contactless payments successful: investment, commitment, and patience.”

Moreno expects contactless payments will have “a long-lasting legacy” beyond London 2012: “People are warming up to contactless payments and have experienced how convenient it is.”

Michiel Willems © 2012 CP Publishing Ltd. Picture: /