CES is over, but it left a clearer impression of what’s coming down the road for the connected vehicle ecosystem, an emerging world that will run on payments and commerce.
Look past the relatively fanciful, if very fun — Hyundai unveiled a walking car concept at the show, a vehicle that could help first responders save lives after a forest fire, earthquake, hurricane, flood or other natural disaster — and you will see a new ecosystem taking firmer shape.
Honda, for instance, showed off its Honda Dream Drive prototype, billed as the “next-generation infotainment, commerce, services and rewards” experience for drivers and passengers. And in an example of how automotive manufacturers must form connected vehicle relationships with payments, retail and other tech players, Honda said it was expanding its in-vehicle collaboration to include Mastercard and PayPal — along with reaffirming its in-vehicle payments work with Visa. The in-car payment system allows drivers to pay for goods and services, such as fuel, parking and movie tickets, as well as order ahead for pickup and share drivers’ locations with family.
In other news from CES that demonstrated the value and need for connected vehicle partnerships, Visa and SiriusXM Connected Vehicle Services, a subsidiary of Sirius XM Holdings, said they would launch their own in-vehicle payments tool. Integrated into a vehicle’s dashboard, the tool — an in-car eWallet — will enable drivers and passengers to complete purchases for everyday tasks while on the go. Users will activate and authenticate payment with their Visa accounts via biometric authentication, so that drivers aren’t distracted while making transactions. In addition, various technologies will be utilized for safe and secure commerce, including the Visa Token Service.
CES took place as new PYMNTS research painted a detailed picture of the emerging connected vehicle ecosystem. According to the Digital Drive Report, some 99 million commuters are finding ways to connect, either by using their smartphones or via technology already built into their vehicles’ dashboards. The purchases mainly revolved around everyday, routine transactions. About half of the commuters who connect while driving use their devices to find a gas station. Meanwhile, roughly one-third buy coffee or food for pickup at a drive-thru window, occurring an average of 65 times and 41 times in a year, respectively.
As well, voice assistant technology — which enables a form of commerce that is relatively distraction-free during daily automotive commutes — is playing a major role in the commerce conducted during those drives. In fact, voice assistant technology had, understandably, a very visible role during CES, where the floor was crowded with smart devices designed to make everything from personal grooming to household management to the daily commute a smoother and more seamless experience for consumers through the power of connection.
As of early 2019, some 28 percent of consumers own a voice-activated device, up from 14 percent last year, according to PYMNTS/Visa figures. And that technology is speaking to an attractive segment of shoppers. The lucrative “bridge millennial” consumer segment — relatively high-earning and highly educated, and approaching their peak earning years — are particularly fond of voice technology, with 31 percent reporting ownership of a voice-activated device and 55 percent of those owners using them to make a purchase.
It’s not just Google and Apple that are active in this space — or trying to secure bigger roles for their voice-activated digital assistant in the connected vehicle ecosystem.
Samsung demonstrated its “Digital Cockpit 2019” concept during CES. According to a statement from the South Korean company, “a driver could utilize Bixby (Samsung’s voice-activated digital assistant) to check the connected car’s fuel tank before a long road trip, or to set the car to the right temperature before leaving for work. Using on-board cameras, the new Digital Cockpit recognizes specific drivers and passengers and sets up the car’s personal space accordingly – adjusting the display preferences, seat height and lighting, and keying up favorite playlists for each user,” the statement said.
As a recent PYMNTS interview with Bisi Boyle, vice president of Internet of Things (IoT) platforms for Visa, demonstrated, the connected vehicle ecosystem is growing rapidly, and the next 18 months to three years will bring significant advances among OEMs, payment and commerce firms and other organizations in figuring out and deploying the actual technology and use cases that consumers want. That ecosystem will not only support routine tasks of commerce, but will also help gig workers make money and, eventually, fit into an even larger ecosystem that includes smart homes and other parts of the IoT.
For now, though, the recently completed CES show in Las Vegas showed where connected vehicle technology is headed, and what might be in cars and trucks before too long.