LAS VEGAS — Desperate to save what precious minutes you can at the gas pump? Sadly there's not much you can do about the time it takes to fill up, but at least Amazon is working on a way to make payment less painful at every Exxon and Mobil station. And this voice-powered time-saver will be ready later this year.
Today (Jan. 6) at CES 2020, Amazon announced that soon you'll be able to simply say "Alexa, pay for gas" while parked at the pump at any one of ExxonMobil's 11,500 stations in the U.S. The system works in tandem with your Amazon Pay account, and so long as you have a way of accessing Alexa — be it through a vehicle with the digital assistant built right in, or a third-party accessory, or your phone — you can start paying using just your voice.
It works like this: When you pull up to a pump, you can say "Alexa, pay for gas," followed by the number of the pump you're going to use. Alexa will then ping your location and verify you're at the proper station. After your confirmation, Alexa will activate the pump. Amazon has partnered with a payment technology specialist called Fiserv to securely handle the transaction and pump activation using a token generation system.
Once you're done fueling, you won't need to lift another finger — you can simply be on your way, as the transaction will be reflected in your Amazon Pay account. A video explains the process in greater detail.
In theory, the ability to pay with an Alexa command should shave perhaps a minute off of those annoying fuel runs, and spare you from having to fish around for a credit card and use one of those notoriously frustrating gas station terminals. However, it seems like there's a lot of back-and-forth confirming of steps and so on that could hinder the convenience of it all. Hopefully, the system can be streamlined in the future.
Alexa's newfound ability to pay for gas isn't Amazon's only auto-centric announcement at CES this year. The company announced it will continue rolling out its $49 Echo Auto accessory worldwide — first in India on Jan. 15 with other regions to follow, including Europe in February. Alexa factory integration with cars will broaden to include models from Lamborghini and electric truck maker Rivian, and Amazon will also bring Fire TV to in-car entertainment systems, starting with vehicles from Fiat Chrysler and BMW.
Dubbed Fire TV for Auto, passengers will be able to access the same kind of content in the car as they would at home, including Netflix, Prime Video, and even whatever Fire TV Recast shows and movies they have saved in the cloud.
Release dates for these new services and Alexa abilities aren't set in stone, though Amazon says you can expect all of them to arrive this year.
Be sure to check out our CES 2020 hub for the latest news and hands-on impressions out of Las Vegas.