A system that allows drivers to pay for gasoline at the pump using their E-ZPass toll tag took a step forward Monday with an announcement that P97 Networks Inc., a provider of in-vehicle payments services, will resell the PayByCar service from Verdeva Inc.
Houston-based P97 says it has certified PayByCar to run on its network and has begun a pilot for the service at an unspecified number of Alltown convenience-store locations. A unit of Global Partners LP, Alltown operates more than 70 stores across New England.
The E-ZPass transponder is live in more than 35 million cars. The service is managed by 17 Eastern states to allow interoperability for payment of road tolls, though last year Boston-based Verdeva said it had reached an agreement with the E-ZPass Group to allow drivers to create a separate account for non-toll payments. The account can be funded with a credit or debit card or with a digital wallet.
The alliance with P97, a pioneer in mobile-payment technology for gas stations, could prove crucial in expanding the availability of transponder-based payment for fill-ups. “P97 is an open-commerce platform that’s integrated with payment processors, loyalty providers, and point of sale systems, which enables us to scale quickly and easily with new partners,” said Don Frieden, founder and chief executive of P97, in a statement. “Our partnership with PayByCar is an example of how our technology can be utilized to create unique commerce experiences along the driver journey.”
According to P97 and PayByCar, the service detects the car’s transponder and vehicle ID via RFID sensors located at the approaches to the pumps. The service sends a message to the driver’s phone asking for confirmation of the pump number, with P97 handling all payment and loyalty transactions. The experience is akin to the convenience of driving through a transponder-activated toll gate, the parties say.
“Today’s consumers want convenience in every aspect of their lives. Together, P97 and PayByCar are creating frictionless commerce experiences that increase consumer engagement and loyalty with fuel retail sites,” said Anand Raman, president and chief operating officer of PayByCar, in a statement.
Previous efforts at harnessing toll tags for in-car payments have struggled. In 2013, a technology integrator called IDriveThru.com tested a system based on E-ZPass transponders with five Wendy’s hamburger locations on New York City’s Staten Island. As with PayByCar, that system offered rewards for usage. And as far back as 2002, a handful of McDonald’s restaurants in Dallas began a similar trial.