RIO DE JANEIRO – Carrying around a wallet or purse full of money is totally unnecessary at the Rio Olympic Games, where the alternative means of payment, from credit cards to rings and bracelets have multiplied and in the future will be seen as a legacy of the 2016 Olympic Games at Rio de Janeiro.
The Rio Olympics have debuted a wide variety of electronic payment devices, and among the most eye-catching are rings, bracelets, watches and mobile phones, the so-called “wearables” of the Visa company, sponsor of the Olympic Games for the last 30 years.
The Visa director general for Visa Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), Eduardo Coello, told EFE that this experience will soon spread beyond the Olympics because events like this create a “residual” effect.
The goal is for these electronic payment systems to take root and multiply in Brazil after the Olympic Games and the Paralympics.
The system, Coello said in an interview with EFE, gives “transactions an air of security that benefits both buyer and seller” and that “puts businesses more in control.”
The growing infrastructure of electronic means of payment in Brazil makes the country a good candidate for developing this next step forward, the Visa executive said.
“The infrastructure for accepting credit cards with chips is 100 percent in Brazil, and payments are secure,” he said.
More than 2 million terminals around the country are operated with this technology, including some 4,000 in Olympic Park, where Visa is the only credit card accepted.
Coello said that since he arrived in Rio several days before the beginning of the Olympic Games, he has been able to pay for all his expenses in the city without cash.
He also noted that the Olympics have made Rio into a unique show window for presenting innovative projects.
“The Games are a world stage where many innovations are presented and we’re doing the same,” he said.
The precedent for this experience at the Rio Olympics was the 2014 Soccer World Cup held in Brazil, also sponsored by Visa.
In the first four days of the World Cup alone, Visa reported $27 million in spending by international visitors to Brazil, some 73 percent more than the entire year before and 47 percent more than the spending registered in the first days of the 2013 Confederations Cup.
The biggest groups of foreign spenders are travelers from the United States, Britain, France and Mexico.
According to the company, the figures confirm the powerful impact of this kind of sports mega-event in promoting local businesses in the host countries.
Revenues from these Olympics could exceed original expectations considering that organizers expect around half a million foreigners at the games and a similar number of Brazilian tourists.
Visa is the official means of payment at the Summer and Winter Olympic Games and of the Paralympics, thanks to an accord signed with the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, in 1986.
At the games in Rio, the company sponsors its “Visa Team,” with the participation of, among others, the 10 athletes who form part of the team of refugees.
Also included are Muslim athlete Ibtihaj Muhammad, who competes for the United States in fencing, Colombian cyclist Mariana Pajon, Brazilian beach volleyball player Allison Cerruti and Mexican diver Ivan Garcia.