Gentex seeks to transform the connected car into a mobile point of sale
As consumers become more comfortable with all kinds of different transactions on their phones, they bring the same connected expectations of convenience and safety to their cars and trucks.
For Michigan Gentex Company, this way forward comes in the form of three âtransactional vehicle offeringsâ that it offers to automakers, which are integrated into vehicles at the factory without the need for additional hardware. For example, its Integrated Toll Module (ITM) has a toll tag built into the rearview mirror that uses a multi-protocol system that works on toll roads anywhere drivers travel across the United States.
Because it is integrated into the vehicle’s central control stack on the assembly line, rather than being a toll tag stuck to the windshield, it offers both aesthetic appeal as well as added convenience. for cars which are driven by multiple systems and therefore require multiple toll labels.
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âYou have this beautiful Audi vehicle and now you have seven toll labels on the windshield because you are going through different parts of the New Jersey freeway or any other structure,â said the chief technology officer of Gentex. Neil boehm told PYMNTS, noting their growing appeal as automakers look for new ways to interact with consumers and generate revenue from this engagement at the same time.
âThis is where these types of technologies can help create that path for them,â Boehm added.
So far, the ITM system is only available for factory integration in new Audi vehicles, but Gentex waits to announce its second ITM client later this year.
The ITM product follows on from Gentex’s earlier partnership with PayByCar announced in November 2020, which offers in-vehicle contactless payments for refueling transactions – as long as the gas station has the required hardware reader at its pumps.
After checking in and entering a credit card, when drivers arrive at a gas station, they receive a text message confirming that it is indeed them at the pump. Then, after refueling, a receipt is provided by SMS.
âWe see a lot of convenience influence here,â Boehm said. âPeople want it to be simple and transparent and not have to carry a credit card to get to the gas station. You can just stop, receive an SMS to confirm it’s you and move on â
Although gas stations must install readers at the pump to make PayByCar work, the incentive to invest in hardware is a combination of increased traffic, convenience, brand loyalty and excellent sales through other purchases on site.
“There is a certain brand loyalty in the way people connect and maybe generate additional income by bringing the consumer into the store rather than just swiping their credit card and leaving,” he said. said Boehm.
Next logical steps
Going forward, the PayByCar ecosystem may expand to include drive-thru restaurants.
âThere is the element where the hardware of the integrated toll module and the PayByCar merge into one system. What we expect in the longer term is the ability to use this material to do several things, âexplained Boehm.
Likewise, Gentex is also working on a separate partnership where it can incorporate the Simplenight app into its own HomeLink Connect app, and then into OEM apps and branded navigation systems. This provides mobile eConcierge services that book travel, entertainment and more.
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Gentex also offers automakers a way to provide greater authentication for in-car transactions through a biometric system that is also integrated into the rearview mirror that scans the user’s iris. This provides greater security and is particularly useful in the case of carpooling, so that the account of the appropriate person can be used to pay the tolls.
âWe started, probably five or six years ago, using an iris scanning camera that would be hidden behind the glass of a standard rearview mirror,â Craig Piersma, Gentex marketing director, told PYMNTS. âIt would be able to recognize the driver’s iris and authenticate itself so you know exactly who is behind the wheel.
With each of these developments, the plan has been to add capabilities that are the next logical steps for consumers to pay by car.
âIt doesn’t all have to be bought from your car,â Boehm said. âThere is no limit to what is possible depending on how the technology works; it’s more about which ones are the fastest to be adopted and which resonate with consumers, âBoehm concluded.
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