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In-Car Payments: Traffic Safety Nightmare or the #BESTTHINGEVER?

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By: Mike Giambattista, CLMP |

Posted on June 7, 2019

There isn’t a person who works in the loyalty space who wouldn’t agree that the advent of mobile payments has universally revolutionized the path-to-purchase. The ubiquity of our mobile devices and the clever technologies enabled by them have turned the act of buying into a simple matter of a couple of clicks. But that’s old news.

There is another technology though, that, while still in its infancy, has the potential to transform that path even further.

I remember when General Motors first introduced their OnStar remote help technology and how revolutionary that sounded at the time. That was 1996 and the thought of someone being able to unlock your doors from a distant location seemed like something straight out of The Jetsons. I think that was right around the same time we were all making sure our co-workers knew we had one of these. But time and technology wait for no one.

Accenture recently reported that several auto-makers are developing systems that would enable drivers to transact purchases while driving. I’d like to pause here for a moment and let you ponder the implications.

Source: PYMTS.COM, 2019 Digital Drive Report, January 2019

Purchaser Verification Issues

Once enabled, drivers would be able to shop-for, and make in-car payments from behind the wheel. While they’re driving. On the same roads that you and I are on. The safety considerations are not insignificant. But that’s where the technological magic happens: “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.” Brilliant. 

Also Read: It’s Time to Take Loyalty Fraud Seriously

Safety Issues

But what to do about the focus and distraction issues associated with selecting and ordering merchandise? “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.”

Ok, but is this really revolutionary?

It would be painful to calculate all of the hours I’ve spent driving from point A to point B over the years (I now live in NY where my car sits happily collecting dust most of the time) – wasting otherwise valuable shopping time.  Maybe not, but you get the point. Historically, drive time has largely been spent on things other than shopping – like driving.

Can that time be monetized? Safely? A TSYS study found that 75 percent of all commuters would shop more if the ability to shop and pay were integrated into their cars. If the total universe of drivers just in the U.S. is approximately 135 Million, then we’re looking at a significant amount of purchasing power - and a huge opportunity for loyalty marketers.

Mike Giambattista is Editor in Chief at The Wise Marketer and is a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional (CLMP).