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Company lets drive-thru customers pay for fast food with E-ZPass

iDriveThru lets customers pay for fast food using the same technology some people pay for tolls.AP/ iStock

Too bothered to dig in your wallet when paying for food at your favorite drive-thru?  Why not use your E-ZPass, the electronic toll-collecting tag system, to pay for those burgers and fries

iDriveThru is independently using E-ZPasses as a payment method at  five New York drive-thru Wendy’s restaurants, Springwise reports.

All customers have to do is sign up with iDriveThru and link their credit, debit or prepaid card to their E-ZPass. When going through the drive-thru, the tag’s data is then read by sensors, and visitors are greeted by a personalized message on the video above the intercom.  Payment is taken automatically and frequent customers can earn reward points for every dollar spent.

iDriveThru says the service cuts service time by an average of 15 seconds  for the close to 600 customers who have registered their devices for the program. This means that some Wendy’s drive-thru’s—already across the board the fastest in the land—can process orders even faster. 

The company says the same payment concept could be used at a host of other retail outlets that have drive-thrus, such as pharmacies, car washes and dry-cleaners.

E-Z pass is available in 15 states, and there are about 25 million registered users.  The Metropolitan Transport Authority, which issues the radio-frequency identification  transponders in the New York area, doesn’t accept payments for fast food and doesn’t take a cut of the revenue.

“We’re a toll-collection agency,” said MTA spokeswoman Judie Glave told the New York Post. “We’re not in the business of making money through fast-food restaurants.”

However, in 2001, the MTA tested an E-ZPass payment system at two Long Island McDonald’s drive-thrus.  And in 2002, another company called TransCore experimented with a  handful of McDonald’s restaurants in Texas, but both projects didn’t catch on. 

But as restaurants figure out ways to make ordering and paying for food easier, this could be the wave of the future.