Mobile banking could, in the not-too-distant-future, include motor banking.
As manufacturers increasingly equip automobiles with Internet access, financial institutions are closely studying connected cars to understand what a futuresaturated with such vehicles could mean for their business.
FIS, the largest fintech vendor in the world, has been researching ways for people to do tasks like check bank balances with their voices, according to company spokesman Brad Fennessy. It's also looking at more complicated scenarios, such as turning the car into a wallet so when someone pulls up to the gas station, the pump is turned on and authorized because the vehicle is identified as belonging to an accountholder.
U.S. Bank posted a YouTube video in June that documented its vision to potentially let consumers use technology to order and send oil when the vehicle is need of a change. Most recently, USAA led the investing round for the company selling the device featured in U.S. Bank' video, Automatic Labs.
The San Francisco startup sells a device that can be plugged into a car to share relevant data – such as engine diagnostics or where a car is parked – with its smartphone app and other apps. USAA is investing in Automatic to see how the technology could help its members.
While the company originally called United Services Automobile Association is currently focused on the implications of connected cars for its flagship auto insurance business, it also owns a $70 billion-asset bank known for innovative uses of technology. So it's not a stretch to imagine the company incorporating car-related banking features into its mobile app, which serves as members' portal to insurance and banking. Automatic's app gallery includes expense report and car cost management apps, for instance, that could conceivably be linked to bank accounts.
In recent weeks, Fjord, a design and innovation firm, published a report that shined a spotlight on the possibilities of connected cars. These go well beyond obvious uses cases like insurance providers using the sensors to monitor customers' driving to adjust premiums based on how well they drive.
"The car is part of the constellation of different devices — probably with the phone at the center," said Andy Goodman, a group director of design strategy at Fjord, which is owned by Accenture. "Think of a car as a remote device for the phone."
Goodman imagines a world where cars can be used to pay for things so the driver doesn't have to fumble with a credit card or cash at a drive-up. He could see a car serving as an ATM card when someone arrives at an institution's cash machine. Goodman also sees banks partnering with car sharing technology companies (not the same thing as ridesharing firms) which facilitate car owners renting their assets to others, to vie for more loan business from auto dealer partnerships. He could even see a day when the car prompts the person with a grocery list based on the driver's usual shopping habits; then the retailer could have those items ready for pick up upon arrival.
USAA sees the investment in the Automatic Labs as a way to test and learn what services could add value into the lives of its military members down the road.
Through its investment in Automatic, USAA is exploring how the tech could help its members in situations like emergencies. Automatic can place an emergency call when it detects a collision, in addition to contacting family members and emergency contacts