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Usain Bolt and Team Visa athletes to star in Visa Europe’s "Flow Faster" 2012 Advertising Campaign

London, 15 March 2012 — As the countdown to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games intensifies, Visa Europe this week unveils its new 2012 advertising campaign, featuring Usain Bolt. The campaign marks the first appearance from Bolt in his role as Visa Europe Innovation Ambassador, supporting Visa Europe’s payments innovation programme. Visa will take the unique opportunity of London 2012 to showcase its latest payment innovations and the Games will be the first where consumers can choose not to bring cash at all but instead to make contactless payments with either their contactless card or a suitable NFC-enabled mobile phone.

The television commercial launches across Europe on Saturday 17th March, in the UK the 90" version will be shown during the Jonathan Ross Show on ITV. The advert also includes cameo appearances from the athletes who are part of Team Visa Europe, a group of 20 top performing European athletes from nine different countries who Visa is supporting in their journey to competing at the London 2012 Olympic or Paralympic Games.

Set to the sound track of Hundred Mile High City by Ocean Colour Scene, the 'Flow Faster' advert depicts Bolt arriving at a London airport. As he stands at the luggage carousel, he’s not sure where his bags are but it’s clear he needs to get somewhere. Not so clear is why a seemingly ordinary member of the public is challenging him to a race. We then see Bolt and the man race across London with only Visa to help them. Through their purchases using Visa’s mobile, contactless and card services, Bolt is able to transform from a sharp suited traveler to being ready to race whilst the other man smartens up with the purchase of a blazer and tie.

Catching a glimpse of Bolt making the journey across London are Team Visa gymnast Louis Smith, BMX rider Shanaze Reade and boxer Khalid Yafai on a London bus and triple jumper Phillips Idowu getting his latest cut at the hairdresser alongside Taekwondo star Aaron Cook and Paralympic athlete Stefanie Reid.

As the race reaches its conclusion the two characters arrive at the Olympic Stadium. We cut inside to see Bolt as he settles into the starting blocks. He looks up and gives a wry smile as he realizes that his competitor across London was in fact the starter for the sprint.

As Bolt rises in the blocks and the starting gun fires, the camera pans out to reveal the London 2012 Olympic Stadium from above and the commercial closes with the words 'Flow Faster with Visa', reflecting the focus on speed and ease of the new ways to pay with Visa.

The campaign will bring the Games to life for consumers across Europe with promotions beginning at the same time via Visa Golden Space (www.visa.co.uk/goldenspace) offering the chance to win ticket packages to the London 2012 Olympic Games and other prizes via prize draw and instant win competitions.

During Games time, payments innovation will take centre stage as Visa Europe showcases its latest mobile payments technology as well as implementing contactless payments infrastructure across London and at the Olympic and Paralympic Games venues.

Mariano Dima, Executive Vice President of Product and Marketing Solutions at Visa Europe, said: "Bolt embodies speed, effortlessness and performance – the ability to deliver even on the world’s biggest stage. Similarly for Visa Europe, London 2012 is a showcase for our latest payments technology including contactless and mobile payments, which will enable cardholders to experience a secure, reliable and fast payments infrastructure for the Games and beyond. Bolt is the perfect fit."

Usain Bolt, Visa Europe Innovation Ambassador, commented: "London 2012 will be the world’s biggest sporting stage. I’ll be there with one goal in mind – to defend my Olympic titles. Everyone knows and trusts the Visa brand and now that they’re making payments even easier and faster it’s a natural fit for me to work with them."

About Visa and London 2012

Visa has been a global sponsor of the Olympic Games since 1986 and the Paralympic Games since 2002 and we were the first global sponsor to commit to 2012. Visa is committed to the Olympic Games through to 2020. As the world’s biggest sporting event, the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide Visa with an unparalleled opportunity to promote our brand to our broad and diverse customer base and to reinforce preference for Visa products and services at an international and local level.

For London 2012, Visa will be able to demonstrate the convenient, fast and safe alternatives to cash showcasing prepaid, Visa contactless payments, mobile technologies and other innovations. This vision includes:

  • Contactless Visa cards: These are already being rolled out across the UK and elsewhere in the world. Today there are 20 million contactless cards in the UK and 30 million across Europe, with over 205,000 acceptance points at major retailers. London is a hotspot for Visa contactless payments and visitors to The Games will find it easy to pay with their contactless card

  • Mobile payments: Visa is working with partners from across the payments ecosystem to make payments-enabled phones available to consumers. Suitable phones with live Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology and special apps will act as a Visa card, allowing Londoners and visitors to travel around the city and make purchases just by waving their mobile phone against a secure reader at a retailer's till

  • Since 2002 Visa has extended its support of the Olympic & Paralympic movement through the support of many athletes. For London 2012, Visa Europe is supporting 20 athletes from nine European markets through the Team Visa programme. In addition, Visa has extended its support to athletes in the UK through Team 2012 Presented by Visa which is helping to deliver Team GB and ParalympicsGB – Our Greatest Team for 2012

About Visa Europe

In Europe, there are 445 million Visa debit, credit and commercial cards. In the 12 months ending September 2011 those cards were used to make purchases and cash withdrawals to the value of €1.7 trillion. 14% of consumer spending at point of sale in Europe is with a Visa card, and almost 80% of that is on Visa debit cards.

Visa Europe is owned and operated by more than 3,700 European members and was incorporated in July 2004. Visa Europe is independent of global Visa Inc., with an exclusive, irrevocable and perpetual licence in Europe, while both companies operate to ensure global interoperability. As a dedicated European payment system Visa Europe is able to respond quickly to the specific market needs of European banks and their customers - cardholders and retailers - and to meet the European Commission’s objective to create a true internal market for payments.

Visa enjoys unsurpassed acceptance around the world. In addition, Visa/PLUS is one of the world’s largest global ATM networks, offering cash access in local currency in over 200 countries.

For more information, visit www.visaeurope.com