Samsung and Visa prepare for the 2012 Olympics with NFC wireless payment app

Olympics 2012 payWave NFCQuite apart from all the sporting action which will take place during the 2012 London Olympics, there is quite a bit of cool tech being introduced too. Already confirmed is Europe’s largest free Wi-Fi network, including coverage in the London Underground system, plus various big events plus the opening and closing ceremony will be broadcast on TV in 3D.

Now, Samsung and Visa has revealed more information on a new wireless payment system, all set to be up-and-running for when the athletes, spectators and the world’s press descend on London later this year.

Both Samsung and Visa are big sponsors of the Games, and the pair has installed more than 3000 wireless payment terminals spread across the many Olympic venues. The payWave system enables people to pay for goods and services using NFC contact-less technology.

Although hardly new technology, NFC has been making headlines ever since Google introduced Google Wallet and the Galaxy Nexus last year, however in countries such as Japan, NFC payments have been commonplace for years. With Google Wallet currently restricted to the USA, there were rumors that Google would use the Olympics as a reason to expand the service to the UK, however as yet no announcement has been made.

Back to Samsung and Visa, whose press release talks about the introduction of the mobile payWave app, which will allow instant purchases of up to £15, and anything over this amount requiring a passcode to be entered. Other features include a balance check and a transaction history.

Compatible hardware

Samsung Olympic LogoAs we all know by now, NFC usually needs both software and hardware support to operate, and sure enough a series of phones have received an official stamp of approval from Visa. According to The Next Web, these include the Samsung Galaxy S II, the LG Optimus Net NFC and a selection of BlackBerrys such as the Bold 9900, the Bold 9790 and the Curve 9360/9380.

As several of these phones don’t have NFC built-in, Visa could adopt a system whereby a microSD card with an NFC chip will be circulated to those wanting to take advantage of the wireless payment system. Having tested the method before and met with success, this neatly lets Visa avoid having to partner-up with a network or restrict users to phones with an NFC chip.

Of course, as handy as a microSD card with NFC would be, it won’t help iPhone users very much.

But what about those who won’t be bringing a phone with them? Samsung has announced it’ll be launching a special edition phone for the London 2012 Olympics, and it’ll feature a built-in NFC chip. It’ll be given to all attending athletes, plus it will be made available to buy around the world.

The payWave app will be demonstrated at Mobile World Congress, and there’s a good chance we’ll get our first look at Samsung’s 2012 Olympic phone at the show too. The 2012 London Olympic Games starts on 27 July.

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