Your E-ZPass transponder might get you through the toll booth in a hurry, but what if it could help you breeze through the line at the gas station or restaurant drive-through in the same way?
A Massachusetts company is hoping to harness the more than 32 million transponders on the roads today to create a new payment system customers could use to buy goods and services without leaving their cars.
Verdeva Inc. on Tuesday announced a deal with the 16-state group that runs E-ZPass, giving the relatively unknown startup a year to develop a pilot program to use the transponders for purchases beyond the toll booths.
The company is developing a product called PayByCar, with which drivers would create separate payment accounts to use at businesses that accept payments via transponder, an arrangement it says would be the first of its kind.
Chief executive Kevin Condon, who at 62 is leading his first startup after a career in transportation technology and publishing, said the idea came to him while sitting in traffic one day on the Southeast Expressway.
At first, he thought he could use the devices to help people access other government services — perhaps renewing their registration while waiting at a gas pump, for instance. But he said he quickly realized that the “bigger, faster opportunity was in transactions.”
Now, after working for two years to get the E-ZPass organization onboard, the company expects to launch a pilot at a handful of gas stations soon. Verdeva is also raising money.
Participating businesses would recognize transponders on their premises that are enrolled in the PayByCar program and ping drivers via cellphone to see if they want to pay electronically. Verdeva, not E-ZPass, would handle the payment.
Many companies, big and small, are working on in-vehicle payment options, but Condon feels the deal accessing so many E-ZPass transponders gives Verdeva a big head start.
“This is about building a relationship very quickly with as many drivers and as many vehicles as possible, and this is the fastest way to get there,” he said.
Andy Rosen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.