In-car payments up the 'cool factor' for mobile

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Since the launch of mobile wallets, there has been a great deal of debate about their adoption. Are they really more convenient than card payments?

For example, when a consumer purchases groceries at their local store, is using a phone that much easier than simply using a credit card or do people do it because of the “cool factor”?

For many in-store payments, the convenience of paying with a mobile wallet may not be dramatically different from paying with a card. However, being able to pay using a system embedded in a car could be an entirely different story.
Imagine if you could pull up to a gas station and you don’t have to swipe your card at the pump. What if you didn’t have to use your card or cash to pay for a parking meter or if you could pay a highway toll by simply driving through the toll booth?

And what if you could order media and entertainment directly within in-vehicle entertainment systems? Perhaps best of all, imagine being able to order a Big Mac at a McDonald’s drive-through without having to reach for your wallet or phone to make the payment. The convenience is clear. Who wants to fumble for their wallet in the winter in Chicago? Who likes grabbing for their wallet when approaching a toll booth?

Automakers and payments providers appear to believe that these scenarios will increase mobile wallet adoption among consumers because of the added convenience.

Honda recently revealed at CES that it was conducting the first proof-of-concept demonstration of in-vehicle payments for parking and fuel as part of an ongoing partnership with Visa. The companies are working with a fuel pump manufacturer and a parking meter vendor to install beacons that will communicate with a Honda via Bluetooth in order to complete payments through a Visa Checkout integration.

MasterCard has partnered with General Motors and IBM to embed its Masterpass mobile payment technology into a new platform called OnStar Go, a car-based navigation, security and communications system. And Jaguar is partnering with Shell to launch a new payment feature that lets drivers use Apple Pay or PayPal (with Android Pay coming later) to pay for gas at the pump right within their vehicles.

Adoption of in-car payments could be similar to the adoption of in-car navigation. For many, the navigation systems in the car are more convenient and safe than using navigation on a phone. But adoption required that the navigation was ubiquitous, enabling drivers to accurately map directions no matter where they were located.

To make in-car payments work, the connectivity and “acceptance” with toll booths, parking meters, gas stations, and restaurants will have to occur. With trials underway, that process is getting started, which is a good thing for mobile payment wallet adoption.

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