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BMW developing smart key to double as credit card

by Drew Johnson

It seems that pretty much all humans go through the same checklist before leaving the house: Keys, phone, wallet. But if BMW has its way, that list will be reduced by one. BMW is currently working with NXP to develop an automotive key that can double as a credit card.

Although the system is strictly a prototype as of now, BMW hopes the system can make the transition to reality in the not-so-distant future. Like a typical credit card, the key fob would be able to pay for anything from parking to groceries.

BMW is banking that the convenience of two technologies within a single unit will drum up public support for its system. After all, many electronic devices are pulling double duties these days, with Apple's iPhone leading the charge.

"With the concept of integrating contactless payment functionality in a car key, we are working on the combination of automotive technology and lifestyle," said Prof. Raymond Freymann, managing director of BMW Group Research and Technology. "In cooperation with NXP we are doing research in enhancing the capabilities of the car key into one smart device for access, payment, and services that will simplify the lives of BMW car drivers in future."

No word on when BMW hopes to get the new system to market, but we're sure it will face at least a few hurdles. While the combination of a key fob and credit card does add some convenience, it also has some inherent problems. Who hasn't lost either their car keys or wallet, even if just for an hour or two?