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Visa gives contactless payment rings to athletes at Rio Olympics

A select group of Olympic and Paralympic athletes competing in Rio will be able to make payments at the touch of a finger thanks to NFC-enabled rings from Visa.

The prototype NFC payment rings will be given to 45 Visa-sponsored athletes to use across the city. The rings are water resistant to a depth of 50 metres and include a secure microchip with an embedded NFC-enabled antenna. 

Visa is the exclusive payment provider for the Rio Games and is rolling out around 4,000 NFC terminals in venues across Rio, enabling athletes and fans to makeRioPayRing contactless card, mobile and wearable payments.

NFC, or Near Field Communication, is a short-range wireless connectivity standard that uses magnetic field induction to enable communication between devices when they are touched together or brought within a few centimeters of each other.

Most wearable payment devices currently come in the form of wristbands and watches but if Visa’s payment ring pilot is a success at the Rio Olympics, it may spur others to experiment with sleeker wearable payment devices.

According to Juniper Research, mobile and wearable payments will hit $95 billion by 2018.

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