NFC race starts: Samsung runs with Visa for Olympics 2012

1 Apr 2011

The athletes are approaching their starting line for the prize of who holds the purse strings for the mobile wallet revolution. In the latest development, Samsung has partnered with Visa to roll out near field communications (NFC) technology in London for the 2012 Olympics.

It has emerged that Samsung and Visa are joining forces to deliver NFC mobile payments across London.

Some 60,000 locations across London currently provide contactless payments and Visa is pushing to have more contactless cards and mobile phones approved.

Having trialled NFC technology at last year’s Mobile World Congress, I can tell you NFC certainly works and Samsung’s latest Nexus S smartphone has NFC capability built in. Rival smartphone player Apple is believed to be including NFC capability in its forthcoming iPhone 5.

Earlier this week, it emerged Google is to press the start button on its integrated NFC technology within Android Gingerbread after revealing an alliance with MasterCard and Citigroup. The move will enable consumers equipped with Android phones to make contactless card payments by simply waving their phones in front of an enabled till in stores. In November, three of the largest telecoms operators in the US – AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile – created a new mobile payments venture called Isis, which will combine smartphones with NFC technology.

Samsung and Visa race for NFC dominance at 2012 Olympics

Samsung’s Olympic and Paralympic Games mobile handset comes with a Visa-enabled SIM card that will be made available to sponsored athletes and retailers.

Samsung and Visa also plan to make the handset available for consumers to purchase through mobile network operators and other distributors.

“Visa, like Samsung, shares the vision of leveraging our Olympic and Paralympic Games sponsorship to leave a lasting legacy in the market for banks, retailers, mobile operators and consumers,” said Peter Ayliffe, CEO of Visa Europe.

“We are not only breaking new ground for Olympic partnerships, we are committed to enabling consumers to connect with mobile and contactless payments technology for 2012 and beyond,” Ayliffe said.

Samsung launched one of the first commercial NFC phones in France in 2010. It then unveiled the industry’s first Android phone equipped with NFC capabilities last year, followed by the NFC-enabled bada smartphone, introduced at the Mobile World Congress 2011.

“As a pioneer in mobile technology, Samsung is striving for long-term change in the way we use mobile payments,” said Seokpil Kim, president and CEO of Samsung Electronics Europe.

“In London next year, we regard the greatest show on earth as the perfect opportunity to showcase how this technology can make a positive difference to people’s lives – enabling them to feel closer to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. This mobile payment device will be available in the UK initially, and we plan to expand the service to other countries in Europe and around the world, where contactless payment facilities are available in the near future,” Kim added.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years