At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on March 2, Visa, Accenture and Pizza Hut announced a new proof-of-concept connected car program that will enable drivers to order and pay for pizza using car dashboard software. The partnership will combine Visa Checkout's payments features, Accenture's technical foundation to integrate the diverse technologies within the prototype and Pizza Hut's mobile app ordering procedures as part of a trial network that will come to Northern California sometime this spring.
The system will handle payments through Visa Checkout, which is already used in Pizza Hut's mobile ordering procedures, as well as cellular connectivity and Bluetooth Low Energy communication. Users will take advantage of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) features in the program to make and authenticate payments hands-free (because they'll be busy driving their cars), and will have access to Pizza Hut menus on the car dashboards. Beacon technology within partnering Pizza Hut stores will be used to signal the arrival of the consumer to pick up the order.
According to Bill Gajda, Visa's senior vice president of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships, the partnership is intended to highlight the growing market for connected car commerce.
“By 2020 it is estimated that more than 250 million vehicles worldwide will include some form of embedded connectivity," Gajda said in a company news release. "As the number of connected cars on the road increases, so does our ability to bring secure online commerce to consumers everywhere. We initially focused on a specific use case – ordering a meal on your way home – but we envision a world where consumers can seamlessly make many of their everyday purchases from the car."
Gajda's predictions were higher than a Gartner report pegging the number at 150 million cars with Wi-Fi connectivity back in December. There is also the hope that by integrating Visa's "leading edge payment security," it could downplay some of the security concerns highlighted by the FTC regarding the emerging "Internet of Things" that includes connected car programs.
“This next phase of payments is being driven in large part by mobile technology and it involves many new players and innovative ways to shop, pay and get paid – including the car,” Gajda said. “With the connected-car proof-of-concept, we are integrating some of the latest technologies that will enhance on-the-go payments. Accenture’s related expertise has made them an ideal company to help us with this strategic initiative.”
For Pizza Hut, this is being seen as a way of building on its digital ordering system, which is the world's largest digital pizza brand by order volume thanks in part to a 2013 surge in mobile ordering and a partnership allowing Xbox Live customers to order pizza right from their console.
"We have the largest suite of mobile apps and are proud to be the exclusive pizza company to offer Visa Checkout, so with our history of innovation, it only made sense for us to be the first to test the beacon technology in cars," said Baron Concors, Pizza Hut's chief digital officer.
Outside of the Pizza Hut partnership, having the ability to leverage Accenture's technology could bring the innovative mobile food ordering experience to other merchants.
“We are pleased to team with Visa to explore the future of Internet of Things-based commerce by building the connected car commerce proof-of-concept,” said Anand Swaminathan, global growth and strategy lead for Accenture Digital. “Visa has great vision in this space and continues to innovate and explore new ways to make purchases more convenient for consumers, setting the bar even higher in terms of friction-less payment transactions.”