How We Built A Touchless Payments Platform (Before Google Did)
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There’s been a lot of chatter about Google Hands-Free Payments since it was announced at Google I/O 2015. Truly touchless payments? Not having to even touch your device to pay? It’s a pretty exciting idea…


And we’ve already done it.


Clearbridge recently had the opportunity to partner with the largest gas retailer in Brazil and a global mobile payments service to create a touchless mobile payments application. This isn’t contactless payments in the traditional sense. The application we built facilitates – literally – touchless payments, meaning customers can pay with their device without taking it out of their purse or pocket.


hands free


The Challenge: Bringing Touchless Mobile Payments to Life

The client we partnered with operates more than 5,000 gas stations and had three distinct goals for the touchless payments application:

  • gain an edge over their competition with a revolutionary way to pay
  • mitigate revenue loss due to the use of stolen credit cards to purchase gas
  • reduce risk of theft for people bringing out their wallets to pay for gas or items in-store


We worked with a world-leading online payments provider to create an app that offers touchless payments and also provides an in-store m-commerce experience.

The App

We built a full-stack mobile payments solution (apps and middleware) that allows customers using the application to:

  • pay for gas without ever taking out their wallet or phone (or even leave their car)
  • pay for other convenience items in-store


The app works to offer quick, convenient payment options to customers while also providing the client a secure system that reduces lost revenues as a result of theft.

How We Did It

Offering hands-free payments is no easy feat. There were a number of technical and implementation challenges that included:

  • Recognizing the gas station and exact pump to properly charge the correct user
  • Establishing a method for identifying the app user
  • Scalability to support millions of transactions
  • Developing a secure system that integrated with our partner’s online payments platform


We used GPS, BLE, and WiFi triangulation to discern the exact pump being used by the customer. With Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, we were able to devise a method where the existing camera hardware at the gas stations associated the license plate with the app user in order to charge the right account.


In order to capacitate a high volume of transactions, we built a scalable solution using Node.js, MySQL, and Heroku. Since the client required a native app for both iOS and Android, we used J2ObjC, which not only reduced delivery time (6 weeks) but also allows for easier implementation of additional features as the client continues to iterate on the application.


We created the MVP in 6 weeks, with nationwide rollout scheduled over the next 3 months. To learn more about the touchless payments project, including technological challenges and roadblocks, get in touch!


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