While in other countries people hardly ever pay in cash, Germans will have to get used to the fact that this type of bill payment is no longer up-to-date. Once more, when the car takes over the payment in the future.
In the future, the car will pay its bills itself. The driver will then neither need change for the parking ticket machine nor will he have to stand in line at the petrol station cash register. “In-car payment” is the name of the technology, and it is not only the car manufacturers who are feverishly working on its widespread use.
Daimler, for example, sees automated payment under the aspect of comfort and luxury, which is why it is driving development forward. “In future, I will not only be able to order pizza from my favorite Italian restaurant from my car, but also pay for it straight away,” says Franz Reiner, outlining a typical application. As Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler Mobility AG, the manager is responsible for numerous digital topics in the Group and sees in-car payment as a central component of the networked future.
The infotainment system of newer Mercedes models already enables payment directly from the car, but only after a comparatively complicated authentication. From the first half of 2022, the vehicle should be able to identify the person behind the wheel more easily by comparing their biometric profile. Codes and passwords are then no longer necessary. Initially, the service is to be established together with Visa, with other payment service providers to follow.
Mercedes is by no means alone when it comes to convenient payment. The so-called “invisible payment” services – the “invisible payments” – have started on mobile phones. In many shops, you can already pay with Apple Pay without having to pull out change or a bank card. With the store concept “Amazon Go”, Amazon is also aiming to move the unpleasant part of the payment process away from the customer into the background. On the one hand, this should increase convenience, but last but not least, it should also strengthen customer loyalty.
It is precisely this customer loyalty effect that makes it interesting for car manufacturers and other representatives of the industry. Anyone who is used to seamless numbers in the car using fingerprints or facial recognition will no longer easily switch to another make. Those who pay invisibly at a petrol station or in a parking garage keep coming back. Chevrolet and Shell therefore already offer an automatic payment system for the refueling process for their mutual customers, Honda is cooperating in a similar way with the payment service provider Visa in the USA. The salespeople themselves should also benefit from the technology, as it reduces the amount of cash in the tills and thus the risk of theft. In the long term, cash registers and staff could be completely saved.
In the coming years, however, in-car payment systems are likely to become even more universal. In addition to fuel and parking bills, there are already other consumption options. In particular, premium manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Porsche already offer services and equipment for download in their new cars. Anyone traveling abroad, for example, can download the digital maps of their target region onto their navigation device for a short period of time. This even goes so far that equipment details can also be activated after purchase. Better LED light for the dark season. The third important field of application for in-car payments is mobility services, such as activating a car sharing car or paying for a ride-hailing service.
However, there is still a lot to be done before the car pays anywhere and anytime. “The technology has to be designed simply, function intuitively and, above all, be safe,” says Reiner, summarizing the requirements. What is clear, however, is that automated payment could become a gigantic business. The consulting agency Juniper estimates the sales volume in 2025 to be the equivalent of around 75 billion euros.