Electric vehicles and autonomous driving technology are in the spotlight these days. But what about the range of functionality on offer for the passenger compartment?
Tech sector players certainly do not lack imagination when it comes to turning a car into much more than a simple means of transport. In the near future, connected vehicles are set to become like a sort of mobile Swiss army knife – better-performing, smarter, more economic and more versatile. They will come with multiple functionality, ranging from a pop-up store to a mobile office. These changes will transform the daily lives of US drivers, who spend on average over 290 hours on the road every year (the equivalent of seven 40-hour weeks at the office), covering close to 17,500 kilometres. So the trend is towards on-board entertainment and financial transactions solutions, with Amazon and Mastercard out in front.
Mastercard, which is a pioneer in the field, has been working for several years now not only with automobile manufacturers but also with travel agencies and other mobility services providers. The US-based financial services corporation recently announced plans to step up its partnership with mapping specialist HERE Technologies and forge a new one with SAP and Postmates to develop in-car payments. These companies intend to work together to bring digital payments inside the vehicle and provide drivers with a highly convenient payment experience while on-the-go. This will involve facilitating traditional vehicle-related payments, such as at service stations and highway toll-booths, through the dashboard panel, plus also new types of transactions. These novelties might well make use of biometric payment authentication, which is rapidly becoming more widespread.
Will Judge, Global Lead for New Mobility Partnerships at Mastercard, has a very precise idea of embedded payments in the near future: “Over the next six months we will offer consumers in the US the ability to complete live transactions in-vehicle for things like parking, fuel and food ordering.” The collaboration with HERE Technologies is going in the same direction, enabling commercial offerings based on geo-locating the consumer. Nowadays, points out Will Judge, “Whether we’re talking about mobility and logistics providers, cities and tourism authorities, retail brands or financial institutions – all these players want to be able to serve up information that is most relevant to a given time, location and customer.”
With the integration of Amazon Alexa into the dashboard, there is little doubt that making purchases from inside a connected vehicle will become a widespread practice. The US e-commerce giant already enables consumers to place orders from a wide variety of domestic appliances and household items, including robots, audio speakers, and even mirrors. Following BMW, Ford and Hyundai, Byton this year became the latest vehicle manufacturer to enable drivers to use voice command to place orders, look for a restaurant or change their destination in real time while at the wheel. Toyota is planning to follow suit shortly. And if this functionality is not actually embedded in-car, you can simply install Garmin Speak, a device designed in collaboration with Amazon Alexa, in your vehicle audio system. Based on voice recognition, Garmin Speak enables car users to listen to music via Amazon Music, Pandora, Sirius XM, Spotify and other apps, to play games, create notes, consult their calendar-diary, and check on the weather and current traffic conditions. Muse Auto is another Alexa-enabled voice assistant for car-drivers. Meanwhile Californian startup Telenav has also announced the launch of an embedded advertising platform.
So shopping, which has for a long time now been carried out online as well as at traditional bricks-and-mortar outlets, can nowadays basically be done anytime, anywhere – even while driving. Meanwhile New York startup Cargo enables Uber passengers to purchase refreshments and electronic, medical or beauty products during the journey. “We're laser-focused on creating a more premium and connected ride experience for the consumer by putting all of the products they need on-the-go at their fingertips,” underlines Cargo CEO Jeffrey Cripe, revealing: "Cargo plans to expand beyond test markets New York, Chicago and Boston in 2018” and predicting that “Cargo will reach more than 25 million passengers across 20,000 vehicles by the end of 2018.”
While today such transactions still take place via a website, it may well be that in the near future on-the-go consumers will no longer need a smartphone, computer or other connected device apart from the actual vehicle. Cars look like becoming ever more independent, offering all options. Explains Jeffrey Cripe: “We’re also looking to work with autonomous vehicle partners on how we can integrate our platform into self-driving cars.”
Will Judge nevertheless points out that “85% of all consumer payments around the world are still done with cash or checks today.” Mastercard therefore intends “to expand the reach of electronic payments, and in the process to make lives easier and better, economies more efficient and societies more inclusive, by setting out to “turn every connected device into a device capable of making and receiving payments.” Good news for users of the 70 million connected vehicles that are due to be rolled out across the world by 2023 and the 21 million self-driving cars that are expected to be on our roads by 2035.
Written in partnership with l'Atelier