Paying for Fast Food the Future of EzPass?

ez pass drive throughWouldn’t it be awesome if in the future, we could pay with everything using just our cellphones. Well, those who are fortunate enough to have a cellphone with Near Field Communication (NFC) are already able to do that. I myself own a Samsung Galaxy S3 with NFC. This coupled with Google wallet allows me to pay for things at stores such as CVS which usually have a tap and pay device. However, it looks like paying with cellphones may NOT be the future.

What is currently holding us back? The major problem is getting the hardware into consumers’ hands. Those of us that have even upgraded to the latest and greatest iteration of the iPhone *ahem* don’t even have NFC. So instead of forcing new equipment into the hands of consumers let’s say that there was already something that many consumers already own. Say for example, electronic tollbooth payment systems.

There are already 23 million of these devices on the road and they are called different names (FasTrak: California, TxTag: Texas, EzPass:Northeast) based on which state you are using them in, but they are essentially very similar systems. These devices saw 2.44 billion transactions from the 23 million transponder devices on the road.

mcdonalds drive through with ez passThere was a pilot program in NY done by McDonalds in 2002. Basically, consumers could go through the drive-thru and pay for their meals using their transponder device. The main plus side of the system was that consumers wouldn’t have to fumble with loose change or dollar bills. This would speed up line times thus improving congestion. However, McDonalds abandoned the system because they wanted to settle payments daily. EzPass typically settles transactions on a weekly basis.

If all major fast food chains were to adopt an electronic tollbooth system, this would revolutionize the fast food industry and the way food is prepped for drive-thru consumption. The plus side of this system is that most of the consumers have already adopted the technology. It is now up to the companies to implement the solution.

If by implementing this solution they can increase their sales revenue, then it is already a win-win solution for both sides of the spectrum. Consumers get their food faster and companies make more money. The only major problem that is left now is the compatibility of transponder systems across the nation. However, a bill signed back in July calls for the standardization of all transponder systems by the end of 2016. So, in fact paying for fast food with our EzPass tags may be in the near future.