IoT: Amazon now offers you to pay for your gasoline via Alexa

by bold-lichterman

Amazon and ExxonMobil announced yesterday at CES 2020 an alliance that allows customers of both companies to pay for their gasoline at service stations via Alexa. The personal assistant of the e-commerce giant is now available in different car models from nearly 25 brands, including Audi, Ford, Lexus, Toyota, Seat, BMW, Mercedes, Chrysler or Chevrolet. The feature, based on Fiserv’s financial technologies, will be available from April at 11,500 Exxon stations in the United States.

Concretely, the customer will be able to activate the “pay for gasoline” function on Alexa, which will then confirm the location of the station and activate the requested terminal. Once you have refueled, payment will be made via Amazon Pay.

Amazon and Exxon have not indicated whether the feature will soon be deployed outside the United States. In France, large and medium-sized stores hold the largest market share for service stations, according to Statista. Among the main players are Intermarché (15.3% of market share), Total (14.5%), Système U (8.9%), Carrefour Market (7.8%), Leclerc (7.4%) …

Market shares of service stations in the sale of fuels in France from 2005 to 2018, by type of network. Credit: Statista.

Make Alexa even more essential outside the home

Beyond the strategy of differentiation, for Exxon it is a question of making payments at service stations more secure. These indeed often remain the target of fraudsters who place hacking devices on card payment systems. Here, the bank card will no longer be used. Customers concerned about voice hacking will also be able to set up a voice activated code to complete the payment. However, the security of voice assistants is not yet fully developed: last year, for example, private conversations were recorded by Alexa and shared. Today, security around connected speakers has thus become a marketing argument.

On the Amazon side, this partnership is above all an opportunity to extend Alexa even further in the everyday life of its users and to make the voice assistant ever more essential. Last September, this strategy became even clearer when Jeff Bezos’ company showed a strong desire to take Alexa even further out of the house with an avalanche of new products equipped with the personal assistant: Echo Bus wireless headphones, Echo Loop smart ring, Echo Frames smart glasses, Echo Flex mini smart speaker, Echo Glow kids night light, Amazon Smart Oven smart oven, Ring Fetch dog collar, new speaker with Echo Show 8 screen, new Echo Studio, new security camera connected Ring, new generation of Eero routers, new languages ​​understood by Alexa.

Amazon has historically missed the mark on mobile and outdoor devices

Today, Amazon’s virtual assistant interacts with all of its users “billions” of times a week, according to the Seattle-based company. There is no doubt that the launch of features such as payment for gasoline through Alexa aims to multiply this number. Remember that when the first generation of Echo speakers was released at the end of 2014, Alexa only offered 13 different functions, such as playing music, listening to the radio, controlling home automation devices and connected objects, shopping, managing its calendar or find out about the weather and sporting events. But over the years, the assistant has developed by perfecting its original uses, taking advantage of the expansion of the Echo ecosystem (Echo Plus, Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, Echo Look, Echo Show, Echo Spot, Echo Auto, Echo Input, Echo Link, Echo Link Amp …), and by offering new integrations and new partnerships, such as with Just Eat, Uber, Spotify, The Guardian, Fitbit, Skyscanner, EasyJet, BMW, EDF, or even Nest (Google).

The goal has always been to permanently install Alexa even in the walls of consumers’ homes. But at the same time, Amazon was missing the boat of mobile and devices used outside, on the move. The fleeting Fire Phone was a commercial failure. The Seattle-based company has been successful in installing Alexa in Bluetooth speakers and car audio systems, but the group is not revealing to few figures on the extent of their adoption. In short, Alexa has mostly remained compartmentalized at home, while Google Assistant and Siri have become the default assistants for the vast majority of smartphones around the world. But the automobile today seems to represent an increasingly important access to the outside world for Alexa.