Gas payments are one of the major use cases for in-car payments, requiring the payment industry to consider the necessary changes to the fuel pump.

It is already commonplace to allow a user to pay for their fuel at the pump, using a payment card. In this regard, the pump includes the hardware and software of standalone payment terminals. These terminals frequently include an embedded OS, such as Windows or Linux. This implies that the pump is designed in such a way to make software modification relatively simple.

Generic payment terminals usually permit chip, magnetic strip and contactless modes of payment. Existing pay-at-pump solutions are mostly based on chip and PIN; some form of enhanced contactless payment must be added to the pump.

IMAGE: Bloomberg News

As the payment terminals are based on embedded OSs, the necessary protocols and hardware abstractions are already available. The addition of hardware support for contactless payment is similar to the IVI scenario.

Assuming that a wireless protocol is to be deployed for ease of use, the key decision to be made is the transport for communication between In-vehicle infotainment system (IVI) system and pump.

Only WiFi can support all of the required communication channels. It would be possible to use BLE or camera-based solutions for IVI to pump communication and Wi-Fi for pump to local network communication, but embedded devices are typically resource limited; it may not be practical to deploy multiple transports in the pump. Minimizing software “footprint” is a common design goal.

It may be tempting to add other forms of authentication to the pump, such as facial or fingerprint recognition. However, there are several drawbacks to this:

All require additional hardware, such as fingerprint sensors or cameras. These would add to the software “footprint” and the overall BOM cost of the pump. In the case of cameras, it may be possible to make use of camera technology already deployed at fuel stations for security purposes;

The hardware will have many users and will be exposed to the elements; it may be easily damaged; and the human element of security in financial transactions has been demonstrated to be the most easily compromised.

Jim Carroll

Jim Carroll

Jim Carroll is chief technology officer at Mobica.