Olympic athletes will sport Visa IoT rings at Rio games

Forget about Olympic medals, the jewelry Olympic athletes will be donning during the Olympic Games in Rio will be a little more subtle. Visa has created a new ring that replaces credit/debit cards, and the Olympic games are being positioned as its proving grounds for the technology.

For athletes, keeping up with keys and cards and ID badges is a hassle, and it’s only fitting that Olympians get to be among the first to test the new technology. After all, the inspiration for its creation came from them. They needed a way to keep their payment information with them through multiple clothing changes, during brief times between competitions and/or events they need to attend, and more.

Another big win for Visa here is that Visa has secured itself as the only payment method accepted by many vendors at the games. That makes it a great sandbox by which to test these technologies. Of course, traditional Visa cards will still work just fine.

Visa is also sponsoring 45 athletes at the game, making it a great marketing opportunity as their athletes will undoubtedly be encouraged to talk about it during press events.

Visa declines the risk of theft

But wait! You might be asking yourself, “Can’t these rings be easily lost or stolen?”

While this is true, Visa has created a safeguard by enabling the rings to be deactivated immediately via an app on the owner’s smartphone. So, it would theoretically be no more or less of a risk than carrying a wallet filled with payment cards with you. In fact, it sends less data about you than Android Wallet or Apple Pay. Using it is almost exactly like swiping a traditional card in terms of data exchange.

So, even if the ring is stolen, there won’t be any personally identifying information on it for thieves to take advantage of.

Put a ring on it

The games in Rio will be an initial test of the technology. If successful, it stands to reason that Visa will take the next step toward bringing this technology to mass market. As of right now, it is a bit clumsy as current-generation card readers require that you position your hand in specific ways to maximize the chance that it will pick up the low-powered ring’s signal.

On the plus side, the ring doesn’t have batteries that need to be changed out on the constant. You won’t run the risk of not being able to buy a soda at the convenience store simply because you forgot to charge your wallet that day.

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