Viewpoints

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PERSPECTIVES ON DIGITAL CURRENCY

Feb 7, 2013

Sochi

Russia and Visa Celebrate One Year Out from Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games

Representing a milestone date in Russia’s Olympic Winter Games preparations, the country celebrated February 7, 2013 as the one year out mark to the official start of the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. The Opening Ceremony for the Sochi Olympic Winter Games will take place on the same date in 2014 and the Sochi Organizing Committee marked the occasion by hosting countdown clock unveiling ceremonies in eight cities across Russia. The day’s festivities concluded at the Olympic “Bolshoi” Ice Dome in Sochi with a colorful ice show and a ceremony in which Jacques Rogge, Head of the International Olympic Committee, formally invited the nations of the world to come to Sochi for the Games of 2014.

The Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi is ready to step into the spotlight as host of the world’s next major sporting event after the London 2012 Olympic Games. As part of its preparations for the Games, Visa and its partners are on-the-ground working with merchants and the Olympic Committee to help ensure that Russia plays host to the greatest winter games ever. Dmitry Chernyshenko, President, Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, discusses how payments will play a central role in the Olympic experience of Russian citizens, as well as the tens of thousands of international visitors that will descend on Sochi and other key tourism destinations throughout Russia.

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Posted by: Lucas Mast, Visa Corporate Relations on February 7, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Oct 8, 2012

Postcards from Sochi: A Sneak Peek at the Future Olympic Sites

It is the place where the eyes of the world will be turned in 2014—where dreams will be fulfilled, where flags will be raised, and where anthems played.  

 

It was hard not feel the weight of history when we got an exclusive tour of the Olympic park in Sochi. Rather than keep the experience to ourselves, we thought we would share a glimpse with our blog readers as well.

The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics are just two years away, and the preparation is well underway. Cranes and tractors across the vast Olympic Park are working nonstop to erect the arenas, rinks, and raceways. Electro-pop seems to be the theme song of progress, echoing across wide, open ice rinks—working music for the crews using soldering irons to install the infrastructure. 

We got to see the main Olympic arenas being pieced together.  The future hockey rink.

 

The speed skating rink.

  

The new ski lift.

 

The future ski jumps.

 

We were grateful for the grand tour from Tatiana “Tanya” Sanders, our colleague who is the head of Visa Acceptance in Russia and CIS and will be overseeing Visa’s work in helping to prepare Sochi’s payment infrastructure for the big games. She gave us a few minutes of her time to not only shoot a Currency of Progress video (stay tuned for the completed video) but also to give a sense of how things are going.

 

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Posted by: Noelle Chun, Corporate Relations, Visa on October 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Oct 8, 2012

Postcards from Russia: Hello from Sochi

Greetings from the city that will host the next winter Olympics! Yes, we said winter, which might surprise you based on the picture above. Indeed one of the charming aspects about this Russian town is the diverse range of climates—tall snowcapped mountains not far from the sunny seashore.

We have traveled from San Francisco to Sochi with the mission of seeing how preparations for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics are progressing. Most important, we came to see how Visa’s work on the ground is helping seed a robust acceptance infrastructure for cardholders from around the world.  The Russian government and the Sochi administrators are eager to ensure the Olympic preparations are not only about making the two-week games run smoothly; it’s about creating an infrastructure that will revitalize the entire region.

We spoke to Alexander Kuyrilenko who runs a souvenir shop on the Sochi boardwalk. In preparation for the Olympic Games, many merchants are bracing themselves for the influx of visitors by setting up systems to accept payment cards.  Alexander, however, is one of the merchants who has already done so and seen the benefits.

He is also one of many merchants already getting in the Olympic spirit by selling all sorts of logo wear. Here is just one stand with Olympic fanfare.

And these bears even strut the Visa logo as part of our official sponsorship of the Games.

Meeting Alexander and seeing how he has incorporated Visa into his life personified the reason we work at this company—to make people’s lives better. Whether it’s helping merchants boost their sales or helping an Olympic enthusiast buy a bear—cards are helping real people in Sochi. And it’s a gold-medal feeling.

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Posted by: Noelle Chun, Corporate Relations, Visa on October 8, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Sep 24, 2012

Postcards from Russia: Oh, the Traffic

Getting around in Russia is no joke. It is one part ballet, one part Nascar, and one part slo-mo James Bond. Talk of traffic in Russia is like talk of weather in Chicago; it’s the constant life companion and an easy topic of conversation. Distances in Russian cities are not measured by kilometers or in miles but in minutes and, more frequently, hours.

That is to say that driving in Russia is an art (one perhaps too intense for my easygoing Hawaii driving roots).  A keen practitioner of this art was Mikael, our driver with a fondness for designer sunglasses and shirts, an appreciation for pop and club mixes—and a mobile POS terminal that accepts electronic payments always at the ready.

When we found out he accepted Visa, we couldn’t resist finding out more.

Here’s a picture of our interview with Mikael, which we filmed on a breezy side street in the Sochi. As we talked, he expressed his excitement for the coming Sochi 2014 Wummer Olympics, pride in his home city and the convenience of accepting Visa. Stay tuned for the full interview which will be posted on Currency of Progress.

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Posted by: Noelle Chun, Corporate Relations, Visa on September 24, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Sep 17, 2012

Postcards from Russia: A Visit to Sochi 2014 Olympic Headquarters

On day three of our business trip to Moscow, Russia, we had the rare opportunity of visiting the organizing headquarters for the Sochi Olympics 2014. The building lies in a busy part of central Moscow on a narrow offshoot from the busy main streets. Once upstairs, we were ushered through a busy hallway to a conference room decked out with many trophies, a long glass table and large maps of Sochi’s future Olympic park.

It was hard to imagine that I was standing in the building where the planning for one of the world’s biggest sports events was taking place.

The purpose of our visit was to interview Dmitry Chernyshenko, the man who was head of Sochi’s Olympic bid committee and is now head of the planning committee. Visa has, after all, been a top sponsor for the Olympic Games for years now, and our company is now partnering with the Olympic organizing committee to prepare the city with the electronic payment infrastructure to host the Games.

What clearly came across from my interview was Mr. Chernyshenko’s passion for the Olympic Games and his commitment to his native city of Sochi. He was quick to point out that he will consider the Games a success if the infrastructure he helps implement makes an impact that lasts long after the Olympic torch goes out.

Today, in fact, we travel to Sochi to see the spot itself. So stay tuned for more postcards from Sochi and, in the coming weeks, a full mini-documentary about the preparation for the next Olympic Games.

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Posted by: Noelle Chun, Corporate Relations, Visa on September 17, 2012 at 9:56 am

Sep 12, 2012

Postcards from Russia: Remembering Rubles

If you are like me and rarely, if ever, find the time to get local currency before you leave on a business trip, then the ubiquity of ATMs at airports around the world can give you valuable peace of mind.

As I exited the customs area in Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow , it was reassuring to see a multitude of local bank ATMs all bearing the Visa brand. We took this photo after a 15-hour trip from San Francisco to Moscow as part of our Currency of Progress video filming series. Fortunately I was not too jet-lagged to remember my PIN number and withdraw enough Rubles with my Visa card to get me to my hotel.

Over the coming days, we will be writing about our experiences here in Russia – from Moscow all the way to Sochi on the Black Sea.  We will try to capture a mix of Visa employees, senior government officials and regular consumers to tell the story of how Russia and electronic payments here are changing dramatically.

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Posted by: Richard Martin, Visa Corporate Relations on September 12, 2012 at 11:31 am