MOBILE TECH

Cardtek co-founder: Get ready for cars that can make mobile payments for you

Erdal Yazmaci is giving a presentation on in-car payments at an Austin conference on Wednesday.

Posted October 10th, 2017

Your next mobile wallet could be a bit larger than your cell phone.

In fact, it could be large enough to drive around.

We could soon be seeing automobiles that seamlessly integrate ways to make payments on things like drive-thru food, car washes and gas with wireless hardware built into the car.

That’s an idea that will be explored Wednesday morning in a presentation at the IoT Payments 2017 conference in Austin. Erdal Yazmaci, the co-founder of an Istanbul-based company called Cardtek that’s been in the payments business since 2001, will deliver a presentation on the future of so-called “In-vehicle payments.” That’s one way of saying connected cars that can make purchases.

CardtekErdal Yazmaci, co-founder of the Istanbul-based payments company Cardtek, is speaking this week at the IoT Payments 2017 conference in Austin on the subject of in-car payments.

But while retailers, smartphone manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung and banks have been pushing the past few years to make mobile-phone wallets a thing (with some speed bumps along the way), Yazmaci is realistic about the things that need to happen in order for payments from your car to work.

“This is still very new,” Yazmaci said in an interview with 512tech. “We’re still in a very new phase.” 

For it to happen, he said, cars will have to be equipped with Internet of Things technology allowing them to communicate via technologies such as low-energy Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Merchants will need to be equipped with compatible technology that allows them to offer customizable goods or services and perhaps discount offers that display in the customer’s car (say, on their dashboard infotainment screen). 

In order to make the payments secure, Yazmaci said, biometric technology such as a fingerprint scanner might need to be employed.

This all might take a while, as car manufacturers start to integrate this hardware into vehicles and merchants integrate compatible tech into their sales systems. “From a technological perspective,” Yazmaci said, “it is almost ready. It may take some time for (a payment solution) to have the market share.”

He acknowledged that there might be alternative ways to hit the same goal, including incorporating third-party payment systems that store credentials on the cloud or using smart phones as part of the process.

However, he said, “If car companies really want to have a secure platform, they may need to have their own (payment) hardware in the car with its own fingerprint validation, rather than relying on Apple Pay or Samsung Pay.” 

Some companies have begun experimenting in the space. It’s not uncommon for drive-thrus to accept payments from phones and Jaguar this year rolled out a way for drivers to pay for gas at Shell stations without getting out of their car.  Honda has partnered with Visa on mobile payments and late last year, Volkswagen purchased a mobile-payments startup.

The challenge, as with phones-as-wallets, will be making the technology convenient enough to make it more desirable than just using a credit card, secure enough to ward off fears of hacking and creating user interfaces that aren’t frustrating to users.

However it happens, Yazmaci is likely hopeful his company, Cardtek, is part of that picture. Cardtek has offices in Irvine, Calif.,  and Chicago, among other cities, and offers end-to-end payment solutions. He’s bullish on the idea of cars as a new avenue for purchases and thinks it’s only a matter of finding the right way to do it.

“All the options have their pros and cons,” Yazmaci said.

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