clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Forget phones, maybe it's time to use electronic toll tags for mobile payments

New, 48 comments
Fasttrak toll road stock 1024
Fasttrak toll road stock 1024

There has to be a better way than pulling your wallet out and shoving over a fistful of cash or handing over a credit card, but mobile payment systems from Google Wallet to ISIS face a major problem: getting hardware into consumers' hands. What if, instead of forcing new equipment to make transactions happen, we used something that already has a large userbase — say, electronic tollboth payment systems.

It's not as crazy as it sounds; in fact, a recent Fast Company article points out how the idea has been gaining steam. EZ-Pass, an electronic toll collection system used with 22 million active tags through 14 states, ran a trial at a few McDonalds locations in New York to facilitate drive-through transactions back in the 2000s. According to Fast Company, that trial ended because McDonalds wanted accounts to be settled daily, not weekly — a change that would require a lot of work on EZ-Pass' end. Still, there are others that already use the transponders, like some parking garages at some airports in the New York area, while others like trucking companies and gated communities apparently have some interest as well. And, thankfully, the issue of different incompatible electronic toll systems across the country should be addressed by the end of 2016, thanks to a bill signed into law back in July. That's a long ways away, but going off of the lack of progress phone-based systems have had, it's not too bad — so long as you have a car.