NFC-enabled mobile payments are coming to the London 2012 Olympics, thanks to a new partnership between Samsung and Visa, both sponsors of the upcoming Games. In addition, Samsung will launch a specially branded "Samsung Olympic and Paralympic Games" mobile handset in conjunction with the sponsorship, which will include the technology necessary for making mobile payments happen - NFC and Visa's contactless payments technology. With the device, and any other NFC-capable phone, mobile users can pay for purchases using only their phone at over 60,000 locations in London.
NFC, or near field communication, is a short-range wireless communication technology that allows for data exchanges between short distances. It's a key component to the upcoming mobile wallet solutions now being designed by handset makers, carriers and other third parties.
Olympics-Branded Phone Requires Visa's SIM
Samsung is the maker of Google's current flagship device, the Nexus S, which includes NFC technology built in. The company also recently announced its new Samsung Galaxy S II will come in an NFC-enabled version in certain regions. Those devices runs Google's Android mobile operating system (OS).
But Samsung also makes its own OS called bada. This OS is installed on the Samsung Wave 578, an NFC-enabled device which launched at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Meanwhile, Visa's implementation of NFC has typically used microSD cards, which are either inserted into devices' card slots, like on some BlackBerry and Android phones, or are inserted into specially designed sleeves, like those made for Apple's iPhone.
However, in the case of the new partnership, Visa-enabled SIM cards will be required instead, according to the company's press release.
What Samsung is not saying is what device is being used in this new partnership. You can try to zoom in on the high-res photo here and try to figure it out. In the meantime, we've asked Samsung for more details and if it responds, we'll update this post with more information.
Update: We're told Samsung is not ready to reveal information about the handset yet.
Samsung says that it will provide the mobile phone to Visa and Samsung sponsored athletes and to consumers through mobile operators and other distributors. Initially, the handset will be available in the U.K., and later will be made available in other parts of the world.