Verizon plans to introduce a service that would let car rental companies, municipal ride share programs, and any business with a fleet of vehicles, offer access to their cars via a smart phone app.
Picture this. Instead of waiting in a long line at the airport for your rental car, you wander the lot looking for a car you like. Scan the QR code on the window, get validated, and drive away. Then drop it off any time you want.
That's the scenario Verizon said it plans to enable. Verizon will support multifactor authentication if the business wants it, so that users would need to enter a PIN or password before being allowed into the car. Verizon will also store data about end users, like their preferences, if the car company wants it to.
Using a QR Code to enable entry makes this platform particularly easy to use. Consumer car sharing programs like Car2Go and Zipcar tend to require users to sign up in advance and wait for a card to arrive in the mail. Theoretically, Verizon's platform would let a business sign up customers quickly through the phone app.
Verizon said the platform will be available before the end of the year. It said that "in the future," the platform would be available to municipalities that might want to use it for rideshare and vanpool programs.
Verizon didn't announce any early customers. That puts it a step behind startup Local Motion, which last year lined up a $6 million investment, led by Andreessen Horowitz, and counts Google and the City of Sacramento among customers. In fact, Local Motion today announced that Verizon is a user. Local Motion similarly focuses on the enterprise market, aiming to help businesses make existing fleets easier to use.
There are other related efforts to bring car sharing to the enterprise. SAP offers an app that businesses could use to let employees figure out carpools to get to work. Uber recently integrated with Concur to let workers more easily expense Uber rides.
Vendors are clearly taking a page from the consumer ride share companies, trying to bring similar technology to enterprise fleets. Now it's a matter of more businesses deciding to adopt these technologies.