This article appears in the August/September 2016 edition of Traffic Technology International magazine
Not too long ago, with the introduction of NFC-enabled mobile phones, people started using their cell phones as payment cards. Now think about doing something similar, but with your car.
By placing a special tag, equipped with secure, long-range UHF RFID, on your windshield or license plate, your car becomes an authentic credential which can serve the same purpose as your loyalty, access, or micro-payment card. You can buy gas, pay for parking, enter a toll road, or pick up a drive-through meal – all without reaching for your wallet (or your phone).
Charge it to my car
The tag can be read at high speeds and over a long distance, so you don’t have to stop or even slow down to make a payment. Also, the transaction is made secure with cryptographic authentication, the kind of technology used in bank cards, credit cards, and ePassports. What’s more, the tag works with any car, anywhere in the world, not just the newest, most technologically advanced models. Simply mount the sticker or an ePlate onto your existing vehicle, and you’re ready to go.
Anywhere you take your car, the payment capability goes with you. Think parking facilities, car washes, repair shops, drive-through restaurants, or digital entertainment you enjoy while you’re on the road.
UrbanPass in Mexico
In Mexico, millions of vehicle owners are using a system called UrbanPass, by Neology. A single sticker allows cashless payments on toll roads, in parking lots, and more, and enables electronic management of individual accounts and payments. The UrbanPass setup is equipped with short-range RFID for mobile phone interactivity, plus long-range RFID for communication with a fixed infrastructure. There’s only one transponder, and it’s easy to manage transportation accounts with a smartphone application.
Refilling the tank
How about getting gas? At the recent Mobile World Congress, Honda and Visa showcased an app that can guide you to the nearest station, estimate the cost of refilling the tank, and then use the car’s RFID technology, in the dashboard, to pay for the fuel and anything else you might want from the station’s convenience store.
Loyalty & personalization
The tag can become part of loyalty schemes and other marketing initiatives, the same way payment cards do. You can collect points and redeem them for free products and services, get faster service as a returning customer, or enjoy preferential treatment as a member or frequent buyer. The tag can also present your preferences, at the time of the transaction, so the attendant at a drive-through can, for example, call you by name and ask if you’d like to place your regular order, with no mustard but extra pickles.
Secure, long-range UHF RFID tags combine cryptographic algorithms with high-speed reading performance, so they’re ideally suited for use with automotive payments. The tags incorporate tamper-evident features, so they deter thieves and counterfeiters. In the case of a license plate, the long-range RFID transponder is securely embedded into the plate itself, yet can communicate with the vehicle so as to prevent the plate from being copied or stolen.
The tags use chip-based technology as the foundation for security. Chip-based security is a proven and accepted technology throughout the world of payments, because the cryptographic algorithms and other security mechanisms of chip-based security keep private information safe from harm, protect against attacks, and deter forgers and counterfeiters.
Even though a vehicle-identification tag can be read from several meters away, the transaction remains secure. Tags can be configured to respond with a secure random response, so they can’t be tracked or followed. Only an authorized reader, with access to secure cryptographic keys, can derive the tag’s unique identity. End-user data remains private, because all the sensitive information linked to the tag – name, address, payment credential, and so on – can be stored in a secure backend system, and not on the tag itself.
Cost-effective & battery-free
Because the tags are small, lightweight, easy to deliver, and quick to affix to a windshield, they’re relatively inexpensive to produce and simple to distribute. Another benefit of UHF RFID is that it’s a passive technology, so it doesn’t need a battery. It draws power form the reader’s antenna, so drivers don’t have to worry about replacing or recharging the battery. The tags can also withstand extremes in temperature, from the hottest summers to the coldest winters.
Expanding in-place EVR programs
In many regions, government agencies are already using secure, long-range UHF RFID as the basis for electronic vehicle registration (EVR), to reduce fraud while ensuring privacy and boosting revenue. Building on these in-place systems, government agencies can extend their systems to support payment applications, too, for collection of tolls, parking violations, speeding tickets, and so on.
NXP is the starting point
NXP is a leading provider of chip-based security for today’s mobile-payment applications, and is uniquely positioned to bring secure payments to vehicles. Our reputation for best-in-class security is strengthened by the fact that we’re a global leader in automotive electronics, including the secure car networks that connect vehicles and their drivers to the outside world in a safe, intuitive, and convenient way.
Perhaps more importantly, beyond having the secure long-range RFID technology needed for automotive payments, we also have the ecosystem that enables seamless design, development, and deployment of onboard payment systems.
Our third-party partnership enable us to offer complete end-to-end solutions. Neology, for example, the provider of UrbanPass, is a leader in integrated solutions for the tolling, EVR and public-safety markets, with exciting new technologies for innovative mobility applications.
Join the conversation
How do you think automotive payments might change the driving experience? If you could pay for something with your car, what would you buy?