Olympics vending machines may go contactless

By UK CreditCards.com

A leading sponsor of the London 2012 Olympic Games is considering bringing contactless payment vending machines to the UK sporting event next summer.


Global soft drink giant Coca-Cola is reportedly in talks with the payment network Visa about the prospect of integrating the technology into its vending machines at the Olympic Park, according to Marketing Week.

The talks are part of Visa's work to make the 2012 Olympics the biggest ever cash-free event. It has already struck deals with Lloyds TSB and smartphone maker Samsung to promote the use of Near Field Communication-ready handsets in the run-up to the games.

Coca-Cola has already debuted vending machines that accept contactless payments in Belgium and Luxemburg. James Eadie, head of Olympics at Coca-Cola GB, told the news provider: "The technology is already available today and we are in conversation with Visa over the Olympic Park and how it would work."

Contactless payments rising in popularity
This is the latest example of an industry-wide move to embrace cashless payments, thanks in part to the increasing popularity of incorporating contactless technology into credit cards, both among consumers and vendors. In fact, research published last month by Visa Europe indicated that most British consumers who have used these technologies would welcome their increased availability.

Of the 2,000 customers surveyed by the company, 85% who had completed a contactless transaction with their credit or debit cards said they would recommend the payment method to their friends. The vast majority felt that the technology makes payments much simpler, while over half thought it was ideal for people in a hurry.

"It's good to see that users of contactless are satisfied with the technology, but it's also clear that many consumers would like to see it become more widely available across the country," said Mark Austin, Visa Europe's head of contactless payments.

Olympic organisers embracing contactless payments
This is a viewpoint that has been taken to heart by the organisers of the next Olympic Games, with a host of deals already underway to increase the prevalence of contactless payments at next year's event. The games are expected to dominate the media spotlight, providing payment and credit card companies with a global stage on which to show off the technology.

To this end, the London public transport network's bus system will be upgraded to accept contactless card payments ahead of the 2012 Olympics, with Transport for London (TfL) announcing earlier this year that contactless debit and credit cards will be accepted on all 8,000 of the capital's buses in time for the games.

Contactless card payments are also expected to be enabled on the Tube, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), Tram and London Overground network by the end of 2012. The Docklands Light Railway,Visa Europe, MasterCard and American Express are all working with TfL to make contactless card payments on the London public transport network possible.

Correction: As originally published, this article stated that "the entire London public transport network will be upgraded to accept contactless card payments ahead of the 2012 Olympics." However, only the London bus system will be upgraded in time for the 2012 Olympic games. The underground and overground train lines, trams and the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) are not expected to be upgraded until later that year.    

See related: Brits show appetite for contactless card payments; Wristbands enable contactless payments at festival

Updated: 24 October 2011