Colin Grannell- Executive Vice President, Visa Europe Share PDF Print E-mail
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Colin Grannell Cropped

Colin Grannell is Executive Vice President at Visa Europe and Head of Partnership Marketing. Visa’s Partnerships enhance the Visa brand, engage with B2B and B2C customers and provide an innovation showcase for “The Future of Payments”.

Colin’s Visa Europe Partnership credits in the last eight years include: Olympic & Paralympic Games (Torino, Beijing, Vancouver and London), sponsorship of Team 2012 presented by Visa, sponsorship of European Team Visa athletes across 10 European markets, sponsorship of Usain Bolt, 2010 FIFA World Cup (South Africa), 2007 Rugby World Cup (France), Visa Paralympic World Cup and The UK School Games

Colin was part of the support team that published Raising the Bar – a review of UK Sport administration and sits on the BOA Advisory Board.

He has spent 22 years at Visa and his previous roles include Head of Consumer Products and Managing Director Visa UK Limited.

By Edward Rangsi


What attracted you to your current position at VISA?

When London won the bid in 2005, I was head of our UK business at the time, having spent quite a few years building up the payments infrastructure. It seemed a good opportunity to make sure we integrated all of our business requirements, goals and objectives into the Olympic Games and use that as a showcase for who we are and what we do. The opportunity to do that was pretty compelling.

How has Visa's sponsorship of the Olympics progressed since it began in 1986?

Back in the 80s, the Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement was quite different to what it is now. The Games had gone through the boycotts in L.A and Moscow, and the tragedy that we had in Munich. However, we understood the world was getting smaller from a communications point of view and the Games would become even more global, at the time Visa was growing into the global brand it has now become and we knew sponsorship of the Olympic Games would build brand awareness and recognition.

Throughout the last 26 years, the way we have used the Games has changed quite significantly from a brand awareness opportunity, all the way through to an innovation and engagement opportunity. As the Games have grown up and become bigger, we have grown up and become bigger with them. If you look at the history of Visa and the history of the Olympics Games over the last 30 years in terms of brand reputation, then the Olympic rings and the Visa brand run pretty much parallel.

What have you been able to offer the Olympic Games as a sponsor?

If you look at where the Games have been held, they tend to be built on new sites. The Olympic site, of course, was a toxic waste field before the Games. So, we have been able, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and in this case LOCOG, the organisers, to build a card acceptance network and an infrastructure where there wasn’t one before.

What we have also been able to do is help the IOC make this a truly global event. There are 204 nations that participate in the Olympic Games, many of them couldn’t do so effectively without support from the IOC and the TOP sponsors. We’ve been able to help all of those countries join in and make the Olympic Games what it is today, which is about human spirit, sportsmanship and communities, coming together and participation. You can’t do that with a handful of countries, you have to have more than 200 countries and I think we have been a big part of making that happen.

You've previously said that you'd like to see a "cashless Olympics", how close do you think you are to achieving this objective?

We are getting there. Over time, we want to provide an opportunity for both the businesses that are a part of the Games and the spectators that come to the Games with an opportunity to manage their purchases without cash, if they choose to. Of course, at these Olympic Games in London, most spectators could have done that. I think at these Games, there was less cash than any other previous Games. It’s an evolution.

I’d like to see the ticket infrastructure be developed electronically rather than paper tickets. It does remove things, such as ticket touts, from the equation far easier if what are using electronics not only for payments, but also for information and data. Replacing cash - to be the world’s most trusted currency - is a vision for Visa because we are into electronic payments, so why wouldn’t we have that vision? So that's something that we're striving to do.

How do you respond to criticism that Visa's Olympic sponsorship limits customer choice?

We are building an infrastructure that enables you to use your card. We never say that you can’t use cash, no one is taking that choice away. If you choose to use cash, then so be it, but the advantages of using electronic payments, cards or phones to pay over cash, are very significant.

If nothing else, the LOCOG set out to make these London Games the most sustainable Games in the history of the Olympics, and using electronic payments is a far more sustainable and green way of paying than it is getting out coins or notes.

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