Honda and Visa aim to soon let you pay for things from inside your car

Pulling up to a gas station pump or parking meter may soon be all that’s required to pay for filling up and buying time, courtesy of a rollout soon to get underway between Honda and Visa.

The two companies had showcased this payment integration at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last year, having launched a pilot project in New York and San Francisco over the summer. With that done, they appear poised to unleash it on various cities in the United States, including one or two in Canada by 2018.

Vancouver was noted as one of them, though Toronto could be on the list too. MobileSyrup is working to confirm where this will work in Canada, and will update the story once we hear back from Honda.

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For gasoline, the deal is with Gilbarco, a big firm that controls about half the market in gas pumps, meaning that this isn’t going to be specific to certain gas stations. Whichever station uses Gilbarco pumps and wants to retrofit to the Bluetooth-enabled ones can do so as this continues to roll out over the next two years.

On Honda’s side, any vehicle that can run Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is compatible. The payment options will be embedded in the HondaLink app that is accessible from the main screen of either projection platform. Once a driver approaches the pump, the process of initiating payment is easy.

You would still have to get out of your car to fuel your vehicle, but the app will sync with the pump showing the cost rising in real-time on the head unit screen inside. Once finished, it’s only a matter of tapping to confirm everything and send the payment through. Again, you would have to go outside and physically remove the pump from your tank and put it back, but there’s no need to do anything else. The station has been paid, and off you go.

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For Canadians who dread the in-and-out process of pumping gas in the wintertime, this kind of payment system makes sense. Honda, Visa and Gilbarco haven’t yet figured out how to automate the actual pumping itself, so for the moment, there’s no way to be shielded completely from the elements, unless the station offered full service instead of only self-serve.

Honda and Visa also partnered with IPS Group, a company that builds and deploys smart parking meters. There are reportedly 300,000 meters in 110 cities in the U.S., with 10 percent of those being in Los Angeles alone.

The gist is about the same here too. Pull up to the meter and you can choose how much time you need, pay for it through the HondaLink app and be on your way. The HondaLink mobile app will also send alerts when time is running low while your car is still parked, which you can top up without having to walk back.

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For the moment, this only applies to curbside meters, not parking lots and garages, though that is the next stage in developing this, according to Honda reps who demoed the integration. What Canadian cities might be involved is also unclear, given that the gas pump integration is a different partnership. IPS Group manages plenty of meters in Canada, so an expansion would be likely.

Any Visa card will work with this, so there isn’t any exclusivity on the type or loyalty status. Loyalty cards, however, aren’t integrated. Air Miles, Petro-Points, Esso Extra — those wouldn’t be tabulated under this scenario. Honda reps did say they are working on a solution, but that would probably mean getting the rewards providers to sign on with the current vendors involved.

Apparently, MasterCard, American Express and PayPal can also join the party, since there is no exclusive arrangement governing any of this. If more payment options entered the picture, it could make it even more compelling.

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How this sort of payment setup might apply to, say, a Tim Horton’s or McDonald’s drive-thru isn’t known yet, but retrofitting the infrastructure to make it Bluetooth-enabled shouldn’t be out of reach for those two vendors.

There was no Visa representative on hand to comment on whether or not those partnerships were in the works.