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Connected cars: ‘drive-and-go’ payments

15 May 2017 06:30

The connected car. A vehicle equipped with the ability to connect to devices within the car, or networks and services outside of it (think: other cars, the office, your home, infrastructure) to improve safety and enhance the driving experience.

Being connected to the internet can provide traffic and collision warnings, and drivers can use apps that alert them to the time they should leave, as well as sending automatic updates to those they’re on the way to meet.
Connected car features fall into several categories: navigation, safety, infotainment and–the one we’re particularly interested in–payments. So, how could everyday payments be affected by the latest (and future) developments in connected cars?

1. ‘Roll up, roll off’ fuelling

Owners of brand new Jaguars can now pay for fuel at Shell service stations from inside their car, using its built-in touchscreen and associated app. Geolocation and cloud-based payment technology combine to provide a checkout-free experience, not to mention paper-free: the pump sends an electronic receipt via email for more convenient expense claims and accounting.

The idea behind the in-car spending experience addresses the dethroning of cash as the king of payment. Making payments directly from the car aims to speed up the refuelling process, and allows you to pay even if you forget your wallet. Oil giant Shell is also hoping to allow other services to be paid for from the car, so customers could pre-order drinks or settle the cost of their car wash all from the dashboard.

2. Hop in, biometrics

Biometric authentication – identifying a person by a unique biological trait – is already in place in some connected cars. Uber, for example, is using facial recognition to ensure the person behind the wheel is definitely the registered driver. In the same way that some digital payment platforms are using biometric authentication on mobile devices, in-car payment services could use similar methods to check that the driver is authorised to spend using the account linked to the car.

Additionally, where there’s tech, there are usually hackers. Mobile apps for connected cars have been found to have some serious vulnerabilities, which could lead to hackers being able to track, control and unlock vehicles, not to mention access customer accounts. As connected cars continue to grow new features, so the need for secure control increases accordingly. Hearing the call for more sophisticated security, this is where car manufacturers could deploy biometric identification to save the day.

3. Watch this (parking) space with Mojio

Transforming vehicles into digital wallets could lead to a more seamless driving experience, even taking the stress out of parking.

Connected car platform Mojio aims to bring automated parking services to connected drivers worldwide. Removing the guesswork element, the app integrates with the cloud to enable drivers to plan and reserve a parking space, paying for their spot in real time according to the location of the vehicle for a specified amount of time. It’ll even let you know when your parking is about to expire ¬¬– so no more tickets.

4. Banking on the go

A lot of people spend a lot of time in their cars, often alone. The next evolution of mobile banking could see it take to the car, with drivers using their time on the road to check balances, pay bills, and make payments and transfers.

Developing an app that would work seamlessly for in-car banking would have to do a lot of things well; not least being hands- and eyes-free, allowing drivers to keep their focus on the road. Similar to Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, the solution is likely to be some sort of voice-activated virtual assistant – and, of course, biometrics.

Just as banking apps weren’t the first to arrive on smartphones, it’s understandable that finance won’t make its way into the connected car right away, but will develop with drivers’ needs as the tech makes new things possible. Eventually, as cars become autonomous and drivers turn into passengers, in-car banking could even allow the driver to videoconference with a financial advisor.

Keep it connected

With in-car connections evolving and advancing as 5G begins to roll out, it looks like drivers could be making payments from their vehicles for many more services in the not-so-distant future. Considering the impending introduction of driverless cars, perhaps in-car payments will make a move towards automation, too – the ‘pay-thru drive-thru’ days could soon be upon us.