Watch out EZ-Pass, Sheeva.AI is coming for you. EZ-Pass is available in 17 states with approximately 35 million users. Sheeva.AI wants them all and more.
Evgeny Klochikhin, CEO of Sheeva.AI, pointed out that the EZ-Pass transponders inside cars require state agencies or businesses to install hardware all along highways to enable a transaction at highway speed.
As a technology that is practically infrastructure-independent, Sheeva.AI can enable both toll payments and all other services, including road-usage charging payments, seamlessly and easily, all without additional taxpayer investment in all that highway hardware. Klochikhin stated that his company’s digital capabilities eliminate the need for a lot of physical infrastructure and not just for tolls.
The Sheeva platform connects vehicles — personal and corporate — to an array of services and payments that include fueling, parking, EV charging, curbside pickup and drive-thru, all transacted inside the vehicle.
Automobile fleet owners can use Sheeva.AI as a new way to pay and track the expenses of specific operators in specific vehicles and optimize the “downtime” of those drivers and vehicles. Klochikhin said that was critical, especially as fleet EVs become more ubiquitous and re-charging them takes longer than filling a tank with gas.
Right now, the technology is in beta with about 1,000 vehicles of different makes and models that contain “infotainment” consoles, said Klochikhin, who had an a-ha moment a few years ago while taking his pregnant wife to the hospital. He described the frustration and hassle of finding and paying for parking in such a stressful situation and asked himself, “Why can’t I just park, pay for it from my car, and simply walk away?”
By 2016, that idea took the form of a parking app and a company that Klochikhin launched called Parkofon. In 2019, he rebranded the company as Sheeva.AI (a variation of Shiva, the Hindu god of creative destruction).
The current pilot program is mainly to iron out any kinks in the system in terms of engineering, mapping, and user satisfaction. Automakers compose the target customer, but eventually and by extension, retailers, gas stations, restaurants, and other business establishments will be part of the mix, and none of them need to install hardware to get customers.
The company’s patented geolocation technology and cloud-based application programming interfaces enable drivers to pay for and receive these services via a single vehicle “wallet” directly on their car’s screen or on a third-party mobile app.
Sheeva.AI’s platform is a cloud-based software technology that is interface-agnostic. Its proactive location-based system can be enabled not only via the infotainment screen but also via mobile apps, SMS, and even voice assistants. “All that is required is a privacy-compliant location stream from the vehicle and a branded user interface to send alerts to the driver, often an auto OEM’s dashboard screen or mobile app,” Klochikhin explained.
Speaking of consumer privacy, he insisted that the technology does not track drivers. “All our platform cares about is to make sure that it locates the vehicle at the service point, such as fuel pump or parking space, and offers the user to authorize the payment and activate the service,” he said. “We do not need to collect and store every single data point of where you drive or park but only record the transactions you make.”
What about all that data collection and how it is used?
Klochikhin said that while Sheeva.AI is in its pilot phase with automakers, data ownership is not a concern right now, but typically, the automaker would manage the data ownership and privacy alignment with customers. Once the technology rolls out officially, data use and privacy will be covered by arrangements between the automaker, a business, and a driver.
“Our revenue model involves a per-transaction fee and/or a site license on a per-vehicle basis,” he said. “There could be a time in the near future when the data we generate will indeed have its worth as real-time context of drivers’ and passengers’ buying patterns inside the car. We’re already discussing how we’d construct future data-sharing arrangements. But none of these would breach the driver’s privacy in any way.”
When such time arrives, Sheeva.ai will be ready and able to offer cross-platform targeting to brand marketers on CTV, satellite radio, the internet, and to media agencies and tech vendors. One of its unique offerings is that the platform knows exactly when a customer needs a service and where they can obtain it.
“Understanding the customer intent is the holy grail of any omnichannel marketing activity,” Klochikhin said.
With offices in the U.S., India, Germany, and Japan, Sheeva.AI is working with its partner and investor Hagiwara Electronics to deploy the technology with the majority of the world’s big automakers. The company does not have immediate plans to advertise its services, at least not until the pilot program is complete and the company can begin to achieve scale.
“In the end, we’re a ‘hidden’ piece of technology that enables big brands, whether they are an automaker, convenience-store chain, EV-charger network, or a fleet operator – to improve the customer experience,” Klochikhin said.