While the competition for Gold at the London Olympics focused on the athletes there was another race going on behind the scenes as Visa made a massive push for the adoption of mobile payments as a safe and convenient payment option throughout the games.
Host Merchant Services Justin Hemmel took an interesting look at the role mobile payments played in the 2012 London Olympic Games and it appears that the old veteran, Cash Money, won through in the end.
They may not have taken gold for transactional volume however it is unlikely that Visa would consider the Olympics a total failure and the amount of data that they were able to obtain on usage habits and demographics alone would be worth the effort.
It is rare that you get a compacted 2 week (or 4 if you include the Paralympics as well) where people are funnelled toward a single provider for all payment transactions.
Visa certainly made every effort to construct the infrastructure that would make mobile payment facilities more accessible than ever before including Visa Only ATMs throughout the Games venues and NFC-enabled vendors who were able to accept mobile payments and combined this with spectators who were technology oriented and could pay via mobile.
As a result, mobile payments did have a huge presence at the 2012 London Games however I would expect that an iPhone with NFC capabilities would have certainly seen a massive increase in those numbers. It wasn’t hard to spot hundreds of people in the crowd at big races with iPhones and iPads held up to take photos so any results from Visa around this event are going to be working with a limited batch of potential customers although you can bet that they would all “like” to be using their iPhones for mobile payments.
The direction Apple takes with NFC really has the potential to determine the direction of mobile payments and it will be interesting to see how this sector evolves.