Jeff Crawford, a member of our payment strategy and innovation team, provides perspective on connected car payments and the opportunities for stakeholders.

In the US, nearly 135 million daily commuters spend more than $210 billion a year on gas, food, coffee and grocery pickup according to the Digital Drive Report by PYMTS and Visa1. Car manufacturers, technology providers, payments facilitators and merchants are developing innovative connected car payment experiences to make these purchases as convenient as possible and drive growth.

Honda, for example, recently unveiled its Dream Drive innovation, which offers a host of voice- and touch-enabled features, including in-car payments powered by Visa, and announced new partnerships with Mastercard and PayPal2. Dream Drive enables users to purchase fuel, movie tickets and parking, make reservations, order food and access an assortment of entertainment options. Audi and Disney have taken a different approach and developed a virtual reality connected car gaming system3. It is currently not monetized but could be used to drive in-game sales. Geolocation makes this a system that can insert relevant product placement into the experience and recommend nearby restaurants, stores and entertainment most likely to spark the user’s interest. Connected cars also extend to commercial fleet drivers with such services as WEX’s DriverDash4, an in-vehicle payment platform that uses thumbprint and facial recognition to authenticate transactions, and an integrated fuel and maintenance data solution from Mastercard and US Bank that eliminates fleet drivers from having to manually input driver ID and odometer data at the pump5.

Payment networks are leading several efforts to support connected cars. Visa is building technology to instantaneously authenticate users against a stored in-vehicle driver profile, using thumbprint, facial or iris recognition upon entry into a vehicle, in addition to using geolocation and 4G cellular connectivity to verify a driver’s identity. As for payment processing, Visa’s Token Services facilitates secure purchases, Visa Direct supports person-to-person payments and Visa Commerce Network manages loyalty and rewards. Mastercard has also made several strategic partnerships with Honda, GM, IBM and US Bank to build in-car payments experiences.

In-car payments will lead to growth in the payments industry. A TSYS study found that 75 percent of all commuters would shop more if the ability to shop and pay were integrated into their cars6. Take the gas station business case, for example. A connected pump could trigger the in-car app, prompting a consumer to select a fixed-dollar amount worth of fuel or to fill the tank (exact cost quoted prior to purchase). After making the purchase, the gas station operator could use contextual marketing to send a personalized in-store promotion to increase the total sale’s ticket. Other use cases include pre-ordering quick-service food and store pickup, easy parking, P2P via push payments to/from nearby devices and integrated updates and servicing.

Figure 1: Connected Drivers in the US
135 MM Total Drivers
Click/tap to view larger
Source: PYMTS.COM, 2019 Digital Drive Report, January 2019

Before connected car payments become mainstream, there are some hurdles to overcome—first and foremost, enabling access. It will take some time for cars with payment capabilities to roll out to a mass market. With a limited initial potential user base, car manufacturers will need to address how to convince merchants to enable in-car payments. Another challenge facing connected car payments is safety. In-car payments must be simple to use and authenticate while driving or require the driver to be fully stopped. Enhancements in voice biometrics and natural language processing AI could help drive adoption and bypass safety concerns, but connected car payments would benefit the most from advancements in autonomous vehicles.

Connected car payments are just around the corner, but widespread adoption will take time. The ramp-up will be reliant on advancements in complimentary technology. Car manufacturers can use the technology as a differentiator and increase lifetime sales by prompting upgrades and maintenance. Merchants and payment providers could see rising payment volume as consumers have a new way to shop and access additional customer data. And most importantly, customers would benefit from increased convenience and speed. All in all, connected car payments should be a winning proposition for all the stakeholders involved.

Special thanks to Laura Levy, Zach Heller and Jack Sheedy, members of our payment strategy and innovation team who contributed to this blog.


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1 PYMTS.COM, “2019 Digital Drive Report” January 2019
2 HelloTech, “Honda Dream Drive In-Vehicle Experience Transforms the Way You Drive” 1/17/2019
3 Audi, “Audi turns the car into a virtual reality experience platform at CES”  1/7/2019
4 Wex
Mastercard, “Mastercard and US Bank Voyager Put Fleet Managers in the Driver’s Seat” 5/17/2018
6 TSYS, “Driving Commerce Insight the Connected Car – Yes, You Can Pay from the Dashboard” 7/2/2018

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