Visa's Contactless Payment Olympic Ring Isn't For You or Me

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

“Screw it, why not?” is how we imagine the conversation in the board room ended. Visa has decided to usher in the 2016 Olympic Games by creating a magic NFC-enabled ring that does everything a contactless payment card can (apart from cutting up fine powders, of course).

It’s not for ordinary, muffin-topped riff-raff like you and me though. Visa’s giving its wearable to 45 athletes competing at the Rio Olympics, presumably because it knows that’s all it takes for the headlines to roll in, who’ll be testing it this summer. Maybe a surprise Supermarket Sweep-style obstacle course race thing is coming. One can only dream.

It works in the same manner as any contactless payment card. Simply hold it up to a contactless payment terminal, wait a few seconds, panic, laugh nervously, realise you’re not holding it close enough, move your hand away and then back again, breathe a sigh of relief and smile at the member of staff in front of you as that beep finally hits your eardrums.

The ring comes in 20 different sizes, contains a microchip and antenna, and is water resistant to 50m. It doesn’t need charging either -- would you expect it to? -- as it draws a tiny bit of power from the payment terminal, just enough to enable the transaction.

We’ve seen plenty of smart rings come and go over the past few years, but this is apparently the first to be “backed by a Visa account”. Clever Visa, but not using Dale Winton for the launch was a missed opportunity. [Engadget]