Game on for Visa Europe and Formula E

As both entertainment and motor racing, Formula E breaks the mould. Visa Europe has supported the FIA Formula E Championship since its inception because, like Visa in the payments world, Formula E disrupts the world of motor sports, combining some of the biggest names in motor racing with a sustainable clean energy alternative.

“It’s the perfect fit,” says Mark Antipof, chief officer, sales and marketing, at Visa Europe. “Formula E disrupts and innovates in the traditional motor sport world. They are challengers and combine the best of sport with the latest technology. This is the perfect fit for Visa.”

Since their first collaboration, Visa and Formula E have established a close partnership. At this year’s London race, they are excited to introduce the Visa Fan Garage. “These are the best seats in the house. We’ve fitted them out to look like one of the team garages. Sitting in them gives you a real 360-degree experience,” says Gary Twelvetree, Visa Europe’s executive director for brand and central marketing.

Fan Garage visitors also get free headsets through which they can hear unique content and listen to live broadcasts as they’re watching the race.

Formula E disrupts and innovates – this is the perfect fit for Visa

Formula E is one of the most digitally engaged sports; highlights of track action are sent, in real time, to social media followers around the world. Tracks are equipped with recording equipment which would be the envy of other venues, with 360-degree cameras and live text commentary, offering unique insights into the drivers’ world. Fans are able to play an active role in influencing the outcome of the event, using the revolutionary online voting system, FanBoost, through which fans can choose to give their favourite driver extra power.

“Together we’re creating a blend between the online and offline worlds,” says Mr Twelvetree. “This kind of transparency is impossible generally in other sports, but it’s something that younger audiences expect more and more. They’ve grown up in a social world. It’s all part of engaging with a digitally savvy audience.”

This follows a pattern for Visa, which has a history of instigating and initiating new payment technologies, routinely adopted in disproportionately large numbers by the same consumers.

Visa with Android Pay was launched in May

Visa with Android Pay was launched in May

Visa Europe’s campaign has a slant toward younger consumers, encouraging use of new payment methods. Their latest Android Pay campaign targets generation Z and millennial audiences to pay with Visa using an Android device, with users given the chance to win a place in the Fan Garage.

FE_Visa_4A new experiment is another first for Visa – the use of Instagram for a campaign, charting the journey of Visa’s Ambassador and 2015 Formula E Champion Nelson Piquet Jr, who made his way across London using only Visa and Android Pay in a tactic designed to showcase the breadth of acceptance. Instagram fans were encouraged to vote to choose how Nelson spent his time in London, given options in real time, with the added incentive to win a VIP package to the London races. Take-up among Instagram users was very encouraging.

Visa Europe is taking the challenge of engaging with younger consumers extremely seriously; in a bid to engage with this key younger demographic they are partnering further with Formula E on its e-gaming platform, the Race Off Pro Series. They are offering heavyweight prizes like a package of Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games tickets and flights, and a cash prize of £15,000. There’s also the Visa Music Stage, showcasing six up-and-coming bands, providing content around their journey and an accompanying iTunes playlist.

Visa has a long history of encouraging the spirit of innovation and leading the introduction of new technologies. Most notable in recent years is contactless payments, a rarity only a few years ago, but now spreading rapidly across the UK and Europe.

Contactless laid the foundation for the innovations that have followed. From major launches, including Transport for London, followed by mobile payments, the use of contactless payments continues to skyrocket. Whether it be wearable technology, watches, bracelets or even jewellery, it all stems from the technology that Visa and their partners have been rolling out for the last decade.

In the UK alone, one in five payments on a Visa card is already contactless and UK spending on contactless cards reached a record £1.5 billion in a month for the first time earlier this year, according to the UK Cards Association. Across Europe, people have “touched to pay” using a Visa card, mobile device or wearable – more than three billion times in the last 12 months. And by 2020, all Visa point-of-sale terminals in Europe will accept contactless payments, heralding even more growth in the future.

Today Visa is delivering on its promise to make life ever easier for consumers. Only last month, Visa Europe enabled its second partner to launch mobile contactless payments via its new Tokenisation service. While it’s unlikely you’ll have noted any changes to the way you use your card, if you ever want to make a payment using your Visa card in your smartphone, you’ll be using Visa’s new Tokenisation service.

2015 Formula E Champion and Visa Ambassador Nelson Piquet Jr, 2015 Visa London ePrix, Battersea Park

2015 Formula E Champion and Visa Ambassador Nelson Piquet Jr, 2015 Visa London ePrix, Battersea Park

Visa’s token technology replaces sensitive payment information, such as the 16-digit account number, with a unique digital identifier that can be used to process payments without exposing actual account details. The UK is the first market to start using Tokenisation and expand contactless to mobile with plans to roll out the service across Europe. Take-up has been impressive so far – the future is bright for those who are looking to pay with a mobile device.

Visa Europe has led the way with payment tokenisation, says Jon White, Visa Europe’s head of product enablement strategy. “There’s been a huge rise in the ownership and use of connected devices. Ofcom figures in the UK show that 90 per cent of 16 to 24 year olds own a smart device. E-commerce accounts for €1 in every €4.7 on European Visa cards. And this is growing. There’s a 24/7 expectation that we can use apps, browsers and various connected devices to pay.”

Mr Antipof adds: “Visa looks for disruptors. Whether it’s technologies or partnerships, we have a long-standing tradition of seeking out those who challenge the status quo. Visa has managed the UK’s transition from paying with a signature to chip and PIN, now to contactless and ever-increasing opportunities of payments.”

For Formula E fans, eagerly awaiting the start of the races in London or online, the excitement is just beginning. As the world of payments continues to evolve, streamlining the consumer experience and introducing new technologies and services, Visa Europe will be as ready as the drivers in Battersea Park, to ensure consumers have the methods and means to pay – exactly as they’d like.

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