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Visa and Accenture used MWC 2015 to showcase a location-based m-commerce application for connected cars that will be tested with Pizza Hut at selected locations in the US later this year. Although still very much a concept service, this initiative is in line with the migration of location-based services from smartphones to a wider range of devices, screens, and embedded touch points. Vehicles with inbuilt connectivity will present a significant opportunity for location-based commerce, albeit one that will take time to build.

A new m-commerce platform

The service is based on Accenture’s Connected Vehicle Business Service platform and Visa Checkout. An interactive voice feature allows users to place their Pizza Hut order hands-free; the payment is processed via Visa Checkout through the vehicle’s connected dashboard, and Visa will use tokenization to authenticate transactions. When the car enters a designated Pizza Hut location, Bluetooth low energy beacon sensors will alert restaurant staff of the customer’s arrival. The car manufacturers that will be involved in the trial are yet to be announced.

Although the focus of the Pizza Hut trial is fast food, the principles could be applied to other location-based m-commerce scenarios and applications. For example, personalized marketing offers could be sent during a lunchtime drive, flagging restaurants and grocery stores that match a consumer's eating preferences – provided, of course, that the user has opted-in to receive such services and their data privacy is protected.

A growing number of vehicle manufacturers are supporting connected in-car entertainment services, but developments in m-commerce are still at an early stage. Ford is one of the early movers on this front, having looked at ways to promote in-car commerce with its AppLink platform. This links to Ford’s Sync in-car command system, which enables drivers to sync with selected mobile applications that can be controlled via in-vehicle voice commands.

All major operators are looking at ways that they can play in the m-commerce domain and also pursue IoT/M2M strategies that include connected cars. They should look at ways to bring connectivity, touchpoints/screens, and applications together in a more joined-up fashion. AT&T is an example of an operator moving in this direction, albeit not yet for m-commerce applications; it is partnering with automakers, vendors, and app developers to provide connectivity services, infotainment, and data analytics. An interesting aspect of the telco’s approach is that it is working with auto makers General Motors and Audi to integrate its solutions into vehicles rather than provide them as plug-in options.

AT&T has also added mobile-enabled cars to the list of devices compatible with its mobile share plans, effectively treating the car as another consumer device. This means that customers can use data from their smartphone plans in their cars, increasing flexibility and making the option of connecting cars both feasible and appealing to a wider customer base. AT&T’s in-vehicle offers currently include traffic news, parking information, and music apps, and there is no reason why it could not also provide m-commerce applications as part its in-vehicle service portfolio. Perhaps the operator could expand its agreement with Google to pre-install Google Wallet in connected cars as well as smartphones.



Eden Zoller, Principal Analyst, Consumer Services and Payments

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