Culture

In more unnecessary tech, you can now ask Alexa to pay at the gas pump

The payment option that no one really needs goes live at Exxon and Mobil stations in the United States.

A black colored gas gump with one drop falling down can be seen in front of a deep yellow background.
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Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa will now accompany you in carrying out one of the most basic tasks known to modern mankind: paying for gas. The company announced the payment feature and notes that you can use the Alexa app on your phone or your Alexa-enabled device in your car to pay at Exxon and Mobil stations in the United States. All you need is your voice.

After pulling up to an Exxon or Mobil gas station, you need to activate your Alexa app and simply say, “Alexa, pay for gas.” After this, the virtual assistant will first ask you to confirm which station you are at and what the number of your gap pump is. Once you have confirmed to Alexa, the payment then is handled through the app via payment provider Fiserv. You can expect this feature to go live at some 11,500 Mobil and Exxon stations in the country.

Is it truly contactless? — No. At first, you might think the gas pump will magically levitate in the air and conduct the business for you. But in reality, all you’re doing is using the Alexa app to pay. That’s it.

Amazon explains, “The health and safety of station employees, consumers and communities remain of the highest priority. We are asking station operators to more frequently clean and sanitize sites – from fuel nozzles to store countertops to door handles.”

“When at the pump,” it adds, “we recommend using ‘Alexa, pay for gas’ or mobile payment through the Exxon Mobil Rewards+™ app to reduce contact with surfaces such as the PIN pad.” So, the only element subtracted from the average gas payment equation is that you’re no longer using a physical debit or credit card. You can expect to see more COVID-19-induced payment styles like these facial ID payment apps or delivery drones.

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Do I really need this? — Use of virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Nest has mushroomed over the years. But when it comes to paying for gas, it seems unnecessary. You might want to sincerely ask yourself about the privacy concerns that come with allowing a virtual assistant into practically every nook of your life, including the car.

While concerns about surface-to-surface contamination and viral transmission are understandable, there are other non-digital and helpful ways to handle payments. Practicing hygiene, cleaning your card, and making exchanges brief are some of those strategies. It doesn't have to involve a virtual assistant known for eavesdropping.