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Volkswagen AG Picks Up PayByPhone

January 4, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

Things have not been great for Volkswagen (VW) lately. Still smarting in the marketplace from last year’s emissions scandal, sometimes called “Dieselgate,” the company’s been working to recover ever since.

While the stock price has been on the rise, its April 2015 highs look like they’re miles away. In what may be a bid to help reverse that, VW recently announced plans to purchase PayByPhone, a Canadian mobile payments company.

The value of the deal was left undisclosed, but with PayByPhone in VW’s arsenal, VW gets access to a company that’s been working to offer access to paying for some parking spaces by mobile app, text message or phone call. If that sounds like a niche market, you’ll be shocked to hear the company processes around $300 million in transactions every year.

Useful, sure, but not necessarily worth buying on its own. Some, however, project that this could be the start of something very significant for VW, specifically, the means to set up in-car mobile payment options.

That’s part of a larger connected car initiative that may go all the way up to self-driving cars, a point that could provide VW with a lot of new profitability per car. Throw in the fact that VW’s been aggressively making moves in this sector for some time—it recently started up its Moia division, which focuses on ride-sharing and similar mobility services as well as put an investment in the Israeli Uber known as Gett—and this could be just the start of a string of moves heading toward something much bigger.

With such a system as PayByPhone’s in the car, paying for parking would probably get a lot easier from VW cars. Not just parking, though; such technology could probably be readily adapted for any drive-thru operation, for any park-and-go take-out option, or for any gas station.

This kind of convenience might make some users pay more for the car that offered it, as well as potentially being the means to get some extra cash in payment processing.

Only time will tell just how this turns out in the end, but there’s no doubt that this could be a real turning point for VW via the simple expedient of offering more services.