Ecosystems

Visa: How Payments Fuel The Connected Car Experience

It’s almost burnt rubber time.

The ecosystem for connected cars and trucks — and the retail and payment tasks they do and will support — is rapidly taking shape. Just look at the recent CES conference in Las Vegas.

Among the announcements was a new partnership between Visa and SiriusXM Connected Vehicle Services, a subsidiary of Sirius XM Holdings, to launch an in-vehicle payment solution. It is designed to integrate into a vehicle’s dashboard to allow drivers and passengers to complete purchases for everyday tasks while on the go.

The partnership aims toward what amounts to the guiding ideal for connected vehicles — a goal that transcends the mere development and deployment of new or integrated technology. “If it doesn’t work for the consumer, they are not going to use it,” said Bisi Boyle, vice president of Internet of Things (IoT) platforms for Visa, in a new PYMNTS interview with Karen Webster.

The interview served not so much as a debriefing of connected car developments at the annual CES show, but an update about progress on the connected vehicle ecosystem, and Boyle gave glimpses of what’s coming down the road at a pretty significant speed. In other news from that event, Honda debuted its Honda Dream Drive prototype, billed as the “next generation infotainment, commerce, services and rewards” experience for drivers and passengers, and reaffirmed its partnership with Visa in this space.

Ecosystem Complexity

The first thing to understand about that ecosystem — the thing to constantly consider if understood — is its complexity. Sure, most retail and payment efforts involve multiple players doing specific work (security, authentication, logistics, etc.). However, for connected cars, some of the major players — specifically, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) — are having to rethink and revise their core missions and corporate cultures, and open themselves up to working with technology and other providers in different ways than has been the case for decades.

To add further to that mix, the long-term goal involves not just technologically advanced automobiles that provide deep commerce and payment capabilities, but serves as part of an even bigger ecosystem defined by the IoT.

“We want to go from home to car, to city to retail, seamlessly,” Boyle said.

Daily Consumer Tasks

She gave an example of how a daily, relatively mundane task might be in the next few years to come: A woman picks up her friends for a concert, but only after buying coffee for all of them via the car’s in-vehicle payment system (some of us are getting older, after all, and caffeine is a vital component for late-night musical events). While on their way to the show, her passengers pay her back for her coffee purchase via digital payment methods, as they all have devices that enable those commerce and payment connections  with the car, in some way, just a larger version of a smartphone.

That’s not all, though.

Say that woman, perhaps on her way to the gym after work, needs to put an extra 10 minutes on the parking meter. She might use her wearable to enable that transaction and avoid a parking ticket.

“It’s about all these devices that are connected,” Boyle said when describing the larger vision, one that includes so-called smart homes. That vision also makes it easier and more efficient to pay for relatively routine purchases, such as parking, gas and tolls — along with coffee and other items that, as described by recent PYMNTS research, present a massive retail opportunity tied to the daily automotive commute.

Gig Work

As more people take on gig work, connected vehicles will play a role in that, she explained. For instance, a person might want to make a few extra bucks on a summer day by selling water from their car trunk while near or at a beach. Technology can craft a situation in which customers can access that trunk and pay for that water. In fact, she said, the coming year or so will bring more examples of such “use cases [on] how people can make money in their lives” via the use of connected vehicles — that is, more ideas about how to get beyond the mere tech and show what it all means to consumer life.

“We are still in the infancy of that journey,” Boyle said. However, progress is happening, and pretty fast. Once OEMs and others learn how to get connected vehicles “right,” other players will copy and imitate what work. That will happen over the next 18 month to three years, she added.

Then comes tweaks on those best-case scenarios (perhaps involving biometrics), as an increasing number of consumers get used to their connected vehicles and adjust their consumer habits accordingly. All these trends will feed on and influence each other so that innovation will follow as OEMs and others start to deeply understand how “to make it work for consumers,” instead of just “putting stuff in there.”

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