Honda bets that cars are the next mobile payment platform

By Liane Yvkoff  for Forbes

The future of mobile commerce could be in the car. Honda teamed with Visa to demonstrate at the 2016 Mobile World Congress that apps embedded in its infotainments system could soon be used to pay for items without leaving the comfort of their car.

Visa has been working on ways to streamline the payment processes for items as simple as fast food to complex transactions, such as leasing a car with its Visa Token Service, which uses digital account numbers or “tokens” that can be safely stored on a mobile devices. The financial institution opened this service to automotive manufacturers, and worked with the Honda Developer Studio to develop a proof of concept that would enable drivers to reserve and pay for parking or fuel with a tap of their finger while behind the wheel using apps integrated in its Android Auto SDK-based infotainment operating system.

“The notion of transforming a car into a platform for payments is not as far off as some may think, and we have made a great deal of progress since first introducing the idea one year ago,” said Jim McCarthy, executive vice president of innovation and strategic partnerships for Visa in a news release. “Working with Honda to test these prototypes gets us another step closer toward commercial reality, which we think provides exciting opportunities to everyone who plays a role in the payments and automotive ecosystems.”

Visa opened its doors to automotive manufacturers to use its mobile payments platform.
Visa opened its doors to automotive manufacturers to use its mobile payments platform.

Honda tapped Chicago-based startup ParkWhiz, which enables users to reserve and pay for off street parking in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco using their Web site or mobile app, to customize its app to work within Honda’s in-dash infotainment system. It also developed a custom app that would enable drivers to pay for fuel at the pump from inside their car, and pre-pay for items inside a convenience store. This spring, the companies currently expect to conduct a three-month pilot program of a fuel app concept in Northern California and a parking app concept in New York City. It’s not clear how or who will get to test these time- and inconvenience-saving features. However, the Android Auto infotainment operating system is used in several trims of high volume production vehicles, including Accord, CR-V, and Pilot.

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