German auto giant Daimler AG, the company that owns several brands including Mercedes-Benz, has acquired Fintech firm PayCash Europe SA, a Luxembourg-based digital payments platform that includes a number of payment options including bitcoin.
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The acquisition is a strategic move by the corporation to venture into the digital payments space. More specifically, Daimler AG will launch its own electronic payment services platform under the banner “Mercedes pay”, the announcement revealed. The new feature will see ‘on-the-go’ payments enabled using a smartphone.
Founded in 2012, PayCash Europe SA describes itself as “a digital payment platform for mobile payment, e-money solutions, cryptocurrencies and voucher Loyalty solutions to serve every kind of business.” With its e-Money License in Luxembourg, the Fintech firm offers services to 28 EU Member states. PayCash has previously partnered bitcoin exchange Kraken as a part of the latter’s expansion efforts.
Daimler AG calls the endeavor a part of its “mobility and digitization strategy”, the acquisition will effectively see PayCash’s payments technology – regulated with an electronic cash license – enabling its customers to pay for services via smartphones.
Klaus Entenmann, chairman of the management board at Daimler Financial Services AG stated:
‘Mercedes pay’ will mainly benefit customers who, in the future, will only need to provide their payment details one time, in order to be able to use a range of Daimler’s services. This is made possible by the eWallet function, a virtual source of payment.
An immediate application of the new payments app will see integration with car- and ride-sharing platforms ‘Car2Go’ and the ‘mytaxi’ taxi applications, both owned by Daimler AG with operations in several European countries as an Uber competitor.
Furthermore, the company also plans to use the payments system with its vehicle financing operations, of which Daimler Financial Services claims to have financed over 4 million vehicles so far.
Although Daimler makes no specific mention of continuing cryptocurrency acceptance to continue with Mercedes pay, the automaker explicitly refers to PayCash as an ePayment company with “solutions for cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and eWallet systems”, alongside its mobile payment services. With Daimler tapping the Fintech firm’s eWallet function, it can be speculated that current payment options, including bitcoin, is set to continue as is.
Exploring the potential of digital payments and blockchain technology in the automotive industry has seen a number of partnerships take place between automobile giants and technology firms. Honda announced its proof-of-concept in-vehicle payments system in partnership with Visa earlier this month. General Motors (GM) revealed a partnership with Mastercard and IBM Cloud computing platform Watson to develop a cognitive, voice-activated mobility platform, to be launched sometime this year.
This month’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas showcased a blockchain-based eWallet for cars that can be used for a number of payment-related services. German energy company Innogy and Swiss financial institution UBS co-developed the application following a partnership.
Elsewhere, Toyota Financial Services – the financial arm of Toyota Motors – joined the global financial enterprise blockchain consortium R3 in mid-2016. Toyota global chief for innovation Chris Ballinger talked about lowered costs, increased efficiency and transparent auto finance as benefits of blockchain technology implementation. Notably, the executive also sees blockchain applications to prove fruitful in the automobile industry beyond auto finance, in manufacturing and sales.
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