Visa cashing in at London 2012 Olympics

Written on:June 1, 2023
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ATM monopoly: Visa accused of limiting visitors' access to cash (Image courtesy: magutosh /

Olympics sponsor Visa demanded replacing 27 existing cash dispensers at the 2012 Games venues with eight of its own outlets as part of its sponsorship deal - a move designed to compel visitors running out of cash to use Visa debit cards.

Confirming the news, Visa said it was replacing 27 ATMs at the various Olympic sites with eight which would run on its own system as part of its exclusivity arrangement as a sponsor.

ATMs at the Excel Centre, Earl’s Court, North Greenwich Arena, Wembley Arena, Wembley Stadium, Wimbledon, Old Trafford, St James’ Park and the City of Coventry Stadium will be switched off, Visa claimed.

The move has raised concerns that 11 million ticketholders could run out of cash and have to resort to using Visa credit and debit cards, as no other cards would be acceptable.

Responding to the criticism, Visa said visitors to the Games could bring cash with them, adding that already 115 million Visa cards were in circulation in the UK, meaning there was a “high probability” that most of those attending would have access to one of its cards.

“Ninety-eight per cent of British cardholders will be able to purchase tickets and merchandise, use cards on-site to make purchases and withdraw money at on-site ATMs”, said a spokesman for Visa Europe.

However, Ron Delnevo of the UK Payments Council said the move appeared to be designed to “compel those visiting Olympic venues to use only Visa cards”.

“The Olympics are going to be cash-starved by design. This is plainly unacceptable in a world where 85 percent-plus of all transactions continue to be made using cash. The Olympics do not belong to any sponsor, however much money they have paid for brand awareness”, Ron Delnevo added.

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