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A designer named Roee Adler is frustrated about Visa’s monopoly on credit card transactions at this year’s Olympics. The company’s plastic is the only card being accepted at all Olympic games through 2020, as a result of an exclusive sponsorship sold by the International Olympic Committee.
And that has rubbed Adler the wrong way.
First, he says, consumers can’t purchase gifts in the Olympics arena if they don’t have the right card or didn’t bring enough cash. If they left their Visa card back at the hotel, meanwhile, the venue forbids them from exiting and returning with their ticket.
What’s more, consumers can’t expect to fill out an application for a new Visa card, get approved and start using it right away, writes Adler:
“Getting a credit card is not something you do in a minute, certainly not in a foreign country. So Visa couldn’t really expect international visitors holding other cards to actually switch to Visa on the spot, right?”
And it’s not like consumers have a say in these spending decisions. If they want to use a card with no foreign transaction fees, for example, they’re still out of luck, Adler says:
On the practical level, I hold both a MasterCard and a Visa, and the terms I get when using my MasterCard in Europe are better than my Visa (in the USA, it’s the other way around).
Above everything else, Adler says the exclusive sponsorship is just annoying the people Visa hoped to impress:
“What did they expect them to feel? “Oh my gosh, Visa is so awesome, I wish I had a Visa card, when I return home I’m going to get one ASAP”? No!
In fairness, Adler might want to address some of her frustration to the IOC, which sold VISA the exclusive sponsorship. The Olympics are now a multi-billion-dollar business for the IOC, and Adler isn’t the first sports fan to be annoyed by their policies.