Visa launching payment wearables for 2018 Winter Olympics

With digital payment methods taking the world by storm, Visa is taking it in a new direction.

The company is launching a line of three wearable devices that support contactless payments for fans and athletes attending the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea in February.

The line, which was produced in partnership with the financial arm of South Korean-based retail giant Lotte Department Store, includes payment-enabled gloves, as well as commemorative stickers and Olympic pins.

“We are looking forward to transforming the payment experience for everyone who attends the upcoming Games in PyeongChang,” Iain Jamieson, Korea and Mongolia country manager at Visa, says in a Nov. 8 press release. “At Visa, we have been working tirelessly to ensure all of the Olympic venues are equipped with the very latest payment capabilities to provide the best experience possible for all those on-site.”

With the average temperature in PyeongChang in February averaging around -4 or -5°C, the Visa gloves will allow fans to pay without getting cold hands. The gloves will have a dual interface chip with a contactless antenna built in, and come with prepaid amounts on them (KRW30,000 or KRW50,000, which is equivalent to approximately $35 or $60 CAD).

Visa payment-enabled commemorative pins.

Commemorative pins at Olympic games is a long-standing tradition, so Visa has introduced four unique designs that can be used to pay and then saved as a collectible. They will cost KRW5,000 (approximately $6 CAD), plus any amount fans want to load onto them.

The Visa stickers will also have dual interface chips and antennas embedded in them, and can be stuck to almost anything. There will be eight distinct designs, and available in denominations of KRW30,000 ($35), KRW50,000 ($60), KRW100,000 ($117), and KRW200,000 ($235).

Visa payment-enabled stickers.

While security is a concern, Visa tells that its wearables “use the same EMV contactless standards, meaning it leverages the EMV crytogram security function to validate the authenticity of the wearables and the transaction.”

“The wearables are powered by pre-paid products, there is no personal information attached to the wearable – no account number or token are used in the transaction process. If a wearable is stolen or lost, users should contact the Lotte Card call centre,” it adds.

This is not the first time Visa has introduced wearables for the Olympics. At the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the company was selling payment-enabled rings that worked in a similar way to these new wearables for PyeongChang.

“Growing up in South Korea, I am proud that my home country is hosting the 2018 Games, and is using this opportunity to introduce Visa payment innovations to the rest of the world,” Seung-Hi Park, a South Korean Olympic speed skating and Team Visa athlete, says in the release. “These payment gloves provide a hassle-free way to pay, even when it’s cold!”

Available now, the gloves, pins, and stickers are available for purchase at Lotte Card’s customer centres in South Korea and online. During the games, they will also be available at Olympic Superstores in Visa vending machines.

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Mandy Kovacs
Mandy Kovacs
Mandy is a lineup editor at CTV News. A former staffer at IT World Canada, she's now contributing as a part-time podcast host on Hashtag Trending. She is a Carleton University journalism graduate with extensive experience in the B2B market. When not writing about tech, you can find her active on Twitter following political news and sports, and preparing for her future as a cat lady.

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