Olympic Phone with NFC sprinting to London 2012

London 2012 Olympic athletes will be given an NFC-enabled Samsung mobile phone allowing them to pay for goods and services in the capital.

Andy Merrett
Andy Merrett has been using mobile phones since the days when they only made voice calls. Since then he has worked his way through a huge number of Nokia, Motorola and Sony Ericsson models. Andy is a freelance writer and is not an employee of CNET.
Andy Merrett
2 min read

NFC-ready Samsung smart phones will be given to athletes attending the London 2012 Olympic Games thanks to a collaboration with Visa and Lloyds TSB.

The handset hasn't been named, but we're sure a Galaxy S or upgraded Galaxy S 2 would go down very nicely in the Olympic Village. Regular punters should also be able to pick up a branded blower in due course.

The two worldwide Olympic partners, Samsung and Visa, are a step closer to offering contactless payments via mobile phone thanks to official partner Lloyds TSB hopping on board. Some 60,000 locations are expected to be ready to handle the speedy payment system by the time the Torch arrives.

Sadly, while athletes may be able to pay for travel on London Transport, they won't be able to make calls on the Tube after plans to extend the mobile network in time for the Games were dropped. They'll just have to console themselves with a cheeky McDonalds instead.

One sticking point could be that no mobile network is yet signed up. Ideally the system will work across all networks and NFC-enabled phones, but all we've been told so far is a fairly vague, "Visa and Lloyds TSB are working with a variety of industry players to ensure that mobile payments work seamlessly across different types of smart phones and mobile networks." Well, you've got just over a year, chaps. Lloyds TSB expects to roll out its own UK-wide mobile payments system towards the end of this year.

As we approach the Games, we wonder whether other tech sponsors will come up with Olympic-themed goods. Acer, GE and Panasonic are also big-name sponsors. How about some classically colourful rings on laptops, TVs and cameras? Perhaps we should be careful what we wish for.