OTTAWA — Canadian software specialist BlackBerry is joining forces with a U.S. firm in the race to turn cars into mobile "wallets" that will automatically pay parking fees and bridge tolls and even collect payments for ride-sharing and parcel delivery.
Announced Wednesday, the agreement with Car IQ of Oakland, Calif., is aimed at tapping into a connected car payments market that Waterloo, Ont.-based BlackBerry predicts will be worth billions within a decade.
The system will link Car IQ's financial software with the in-vehicle "edge" computing of BlackBerry's IVY system and provide direct access to vehicle sensors. In edge computing, data is processed at the site rather than transmitted for processing elsewhere.
“Access to sensor data and edge computing will allow for an incredibly secure in-vehicle payments solution,” BlackBerry vice-president Peter Virk said in a release.
For years, automakers and tech firms have been trying out systems that could emulate smartphone mobile-payment technology. But the processes have been complex, relying on multiple smartphone applications or "legacy banking" tools like physical credit cards to communicate with merchants and service providers, BlackBerry said.
Embedding Car IQ software will create a "digital fingerprint" that allows a vehicle to quickly connect to a bank’s payment network, validate, and autonomously pay for items from fuel to tolls to maintenance, the companies said.
Financial tech analyst Nicolas Drachoussoff says vehicle-based mobile wallets could even earn money for car owners. Revenue from the sale of traffic and other data collected by vehicle sensors could be shared between the owner and carmaker, for example. Audi and Amazon have already tested a system in which drivers are paid for transporting parcels.
"Ultimately, turning cars into wallets could increase the public interest for car sharing," in part because of the ease of sharing costs, Drachoussoff wrote in a report published by European business consultant Initio.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.