Bloggers and tech reporters have been quick to give Visa Inc. a swift kick in the pants for the failure of a point-of-sale system at London's Wembley Stadium during Olympic soccer matches this week.
After all, Visa Inc. and Visa Europe have been extremely vocal about their use of the Olympics as a testing ground for contactless mobile payments.
But Visa says, and Wembley Stadium has acknowledged, that the breakdown at the stadium occurred on a system that Wembley owns and operates. That system, which is used to complete food and beverage transactions, "buckled" from the heavy volume, says Visa spokesman Ryan Donovan.
Visa issued a statement noting it continues to work with Wembley to resolve the issue. "Visa's own systems, including those that support sales of merchandise at Wembley Stadium, have continued to operate normally," Visa added.
Donovan says Visa built a new payments infrastructure at various Olympic venues, but Wembley did not "choose that option" for the particular system that failed.
Wembley, on its website, states that it "owns the IT infrastructure within the stadium and the problem was related to this, and not to Visa's systems."
During the system problems, the stadium was able to accept cash purchases at kiosks. Wembley has since announced that the system is working again, though Visa continues to work with the stadium technicians to avoid another breakdown.
Regardless of why the Wembley Stadium system failed, many fans at the game simply viewed it as not being able to use their Visa cards and having to stand in long lines to use cash, says Zil Bareisis, a London-based senior analyst with research firm Celent.
The incident reminds consumers that only Visa cards can be used at the Olympics, he says.
"In my view, this has done more damage than good to the Visa brand so far," Bareisis says.
It adds to the negative press Visa received for its decision to eject non-Visa ATMs from Olympics venues.
Otherwise, the Olympics has gone well for Visa, Donovan says, with consumers using chip cards and some using the Samsung mobile phones VISA distributed to athletes and VIPs prior to the Games.