Dive Brief:

  • In preparation for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Visa integrated 5,300 contactless payment terminals for official event venues, including at eight stadiums and the FIFA Fan Festival, the payments company said in a press release on Thursday. The tournament kicked off Sunday.
  • In collaboration with Qatar National Bank and PopID, Visa’s tokenization technology will help facilitate facial recognition for payments. Attendees can also get animated digital prepaid cards by scanning QR codes at the event, according to the announcement.
  • Merchants in Qatar will also be able to use Visa tap-to-phone capability to accept contactless payments while attendees can use contactless payments to pay for their taxis during the event, per Visa’s press release.

Dive Insight:

The World Cup 2022 tournament, which takes place every four years and is expected to draw one million fans to Qatar this year, has encountered its share of controversy, but that hasn’t stopped Visa from seeing the event as a major marketing opportunity.

The San Francisco-based company, which is FIFA’s official paytech partner, will use the global stage “to showcase and test new technologies, enhance the fan experience and leave a lasting impression on the host country,” the company said in the release.

For instance, facial recognition technology will be used for the first time in Qatar for payments during the soccer event, Visa’s release said. The new way to pay will be made possible through a collaboration between Qatar National Bank and the expanding Pasadena, California-based business PopID, with support from Visa’s tokenization technology. Users can try the technology at three coffee shops, using their face to authenticate payments.

“As FIFA’s long-standing partner, Visa wants to give football fans from around the world the best way to pay in Qatar, while experiencing exciting new innovations such as the fusion of art, football and technology at Visa’s Masters of Movement venue,” Dr. Saeeda Jaffar, a Visa senior vice president, said in the statement. “With thousands of contactless payment terminals, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 promises to be the most payment-enabled FIFA tournament ever.”

Visa is continuing its collaboration with Crypto.com at the event. As part of a Visa offering during the FIFA Fan Festival in Doha, the capital of Qatar, attendees can create digital art and mint that art as their NFT in collaboration with Crypto.com. In March 2021, Visa teamed up with Crypto.com to test cryptocurrency transaction settlements using Ethereum and USD Coin.

However, the continued relationship with Crypto.com comes as the exchange, alongside others, is weathering a downturn. Citing data from JPMorgan Chase analysts, Decrypt reported that investors are taking their funds out of Crypto.com and other exchanges after FTX’s recent collapse.

Other payments companies want in on the World Cup action, too. Visa rival Mastercard is a partner of the Brazilian Football Confederation, and crypto exchange Binance sponsors Argentina’s national team, CoinDesk has reported

British fintech Revolut offered a promotion giving one of its customers the chance to attend World Cup matches and travel accommodations, “courtesy of Visa.” And despite Visa’s domination of the event, “American Express cards are accepted upon request” when purchasing hospitality packages, according to a FIFA web page.

In preparation for an influx of global visitors, Qatar has sought to bolster its digital payments capabilities. In August, the country launched Google Pay capabilities, and the Qatar Central Bank issued its first digital payments license, PYMNTS reported

With an eye on the opportunity the World Cup brings, Spendwisor, a payment and fintech company based in Qatar, recently teamed up with LISNR, a Cincinnati-based verification company, to power contactless payments authentication, according to a news release.

Visa’s partnership with the FIFA World Cup comes as the card network company eyes growth from consumer spending, new payment flows and value-added services, according to CEO Al Kelly’s comments during a conference call last month with analysts to discuss quarterly results and the outlook for next year.

In reporting the fiscal fourth-quarter results last month, Visa said net income for that last quarter of the year jumped 10% to $3.9 billion over last year as revenue soared 19% to $7.8 billion. For the full fiscal year, net income climbed 21% to $15 billion on a revenue increase of 22% to $29.3 billion. 

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