US20110208568A1 - Vehicle transaction system and method - Google Patents

Vehicle transaction system and method Download PDF

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Publication number
US20110208568A1
US20110208568A1 US12/859,037 US85903710A US2011208568A1 US 20110208568 A1 US20110208568 A1 US 20110208568A1 US 85903710 A US85903710 A US 85903710A US 2011208568 A1 US2011208568 A1 US 2011208568A1
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Prior art keywords
vehicle
customer
toll
payment
method
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Abandoned
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US12/859,037
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Glenn Deitiker
J. Chris George
Shannon Fuentes Swank
Mark G. Swank
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BANCPASS Inc
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BANCPASS Inc
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Priority to US23487209P priority Critical
Application filed by BANCPASS Inc filed Critical BANCPASS Inc
Priority to US12/859,037 priority patent/US20110208568A1/en
Publication of US20110208568A1 publication Critical patent/US20110208568A1/en
Assigned to BANCPASS, INC reassignment BANCPASS, INC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: DEITIKER, GLENN, GEORGE, J. CHRIS, SWANK, MARK G., SWANK, SHANNON FUENTES
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q20/00Payment architectures, schemes or protocols
    • G06Q20/22Payment schemes or models
    • G06Q20/26Debit schemes, e.g. "pay now"
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07BTICKET-ISSUING APPARATUS; FARE-REGISTERING APPARATUS; FRANKING APPARATUS
    • G07B15/00Arrangements or apparatus for collecting fares, tolls or entrance fees at one or more control points
    • G07B15/06Arrangements for road pricing or congestion charging of vehicles or vehicle users, e.g. automatic toll systems
    • G07B15/063Arrangements for road pricing or congestion charging of vehicles or vehicle users, e.g. automatic toll systems using wireless information transmission between the vehicle and a fixed station

Abstract

A financial system and method for facilitating the payment of tolls, parking and related transactions. A customer registers a vehicle and registers one or more single financial accounts with the system. The financial system updates the list of active vehicles and submits a vehicle status list to participating toll systems. The customer uses a particular toll system and the toll system detects the license plate. The toll system submits request for payment from the financial network after the toll occurs. The financial network charges the customer financial account and settles payment of the toll with the toll system.

Description

    PRIORITY STATEMENT UNDER 35 U.S.C. §119 & 37 C.F.R. §1.78
  • This non-provisional application claims priority based upon prior U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/234,872 filed Aug. 18, 2009 in the name of Glenn Deitiker, J. Chris George, Shannon Fuentes Swank and Mark Swank entitled “Vehicle Transaction System and Method,” the disclosure of which is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Traditional systems offer little customer choice for method of payment at unmanned toll locations. For toll facilities in particular, open road tolling (ORT) systems process vehicles at highway speeds with no opportunity to use a cash or coin machine for payment. Traditional ORT systems use active or passive methods for identifying customers including radio frequency transponders or visual images of the vehicle license plate among others. Toll systems traditionally use a stored value account for each customer requiring an initial deposit to apply to future transactions. Before the stored value account is fully depleted, it is replenished from a customer's bank account, credit card or cash payment at a service center. This is an inconvenient system at best for infrequent users of a toll system. Users of multiple regional toll systems may be required to open several accounts. There is a need, therefore, for an improved method of electronic payment in open road tolling and other similar environments.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The invention is a financial network system and process enabling vehicle transaction systems such as toll roads, parking structures and drive-through service windows to charge individuals for transactions through a customer's preferred financial account using the vehicle for identification. The financial network system provides a service allowing customers to register one or more vehicles using a mutually accepted method of identification. Vehicles may be identified visually using the license plate number or electronically using an electronic identification system such as a passive radio frequency identification (RFID) tag or an active networking device.
  • The financial network system provides customers the ability to choose the method of payment for vehicle transaction systems either when unattended, electronic processing of transactions is the only method available or when a choice of unattended or attended transactions is available. The system does not require a stored value account but one may be available. The system will submit individual vehicle transactions for payment to a financial account system such as the ACH system or a credit card merchant network but transactions may be grouped to reduce process fees.
  • In one embodiment of the invention, a customer registers a vehicle for a system account and registers a single financial account. The financial system updates the list of active vehicles and submits a vehicle status list to participating toll systems. The customer uses a particular toll system and the toll system detects the license plate. The toll system submits request for payment from the financial network the day after the toll occurs. The financial network charges the customer financial account and settles payment of the toll with the toll system.
  • In another embodiment, a customer registers 2 vehicles for a system account and registers two financial accounts. Vehicle A is configured to use financial account 1 for payment and vehicle B is configured to use financial account 2 for payment. The financial system will apply toll charges directly to financial account 1 whenever vehicle A transactions are submitted by a toll system and financial account 2 will be charged when vehicle B transactions are submitted. When the customer closes financial account 2 and does not remove it from the financial system, the system will attempt to charge financial account 1 for vehicle B if the financial authorization fails with financial account 2. A message may be sent to the customer indicating a problem exists with financial account 2.
  • In another embodiment, a customer rents a car and adds the vehicle to their account. The car immediately uses a toll system XYZ and is identified by the toll system. The vehicle does not appear in a VSL but the toll system submits a payment request to the financial system using the vehicle identifier. The financial system matches the vehicle to the new entry and sends an authorization request message to the customer using their preferred communication method. The customer authorizes payment, the financial system charges the preferred financial account and acknowledges payment to the toll system. The financial system settles payment with the toll system for the vehicle transaction.
  • According to another embodiment, a customer has a business financial account and a personal financial account registered with the financial system and has a preferred payment method against the personal account. The customer has two vehicles registered to the system account. Before making a business trip, the customer changes the preferred method of payment for vehicle A to the business account and uses three toll systems during the business trip. After returning, the customer changes the preferred method for vehicle A back to the personal account except for when the trip occurred. Each toll system submits transactions for the business trip for vehicle A to the financial system after the account is changed back to the personal account. The financial system settles each transaction against the business account for vehicle A as the customer intended.
  • The foregoing has outlined rather broadly certain aspects of the present invention in order that the detailed description of the invention that follows may be better understood. Additional features and advantages of the invention will be described hereinafter which form the subject of the claims of the invention. It should be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the conception and specific embodiment disclosed may be readily utilized as a basis for modifying or designing other structures or processes for carrying out the same purposes of the present invention. It should also be realized by those skilled in the art that such equivalent constructions do not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention as set forth in the appended claims.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • For a more complete understanding of the present invention, and the advantages thereof, reference is now made to the following descriptions taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:
  • FIG. 1 is a flow diagram showing the relationship between the toll facility, transaction processing, vehicle processing, customer processing and payment processing in one embodiment of the invention;
  • FIG. 2 is a flow diagram showing the payment process for a customer in one embodiment of the invention;
  • FIG. 3 is a flow diagram showing the payment process for multiple vehicles in one embodiment of the invention; and
  • FIG. 4 is a flow diagram showing the payment process for a rental car in one embodiment of the invention.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • The present invention is directed to improved methods and systems for electronic toll collection. The configuration and use of the presently preferred embodiments are discussed in detail below. It should be appreciated, however, that the present invention provides many applicable inventive concepts that can be embodied in a wide variety of contexts other than traditional electronic toll collection, such as parking structures and drive through service windows. Accordingly, the specific embodiments discussed are merely illustrative of specific ways to make and use the invention, and do not limit the scope of the invention. In addition, the following terms shall have the associated meaning when used herein:
  • “automatic clearing house” means an electronic financial network for financial transactions used by the banking system;
  • “back-office system” means a system that processes and clears electronic transactions at a central location;
  • “electronic toll collection” means the use of electronic identification to process vehicle transactions on a toll road, parking structure or other vehicle service;
  • “financial account” means an account with a bank, credit card or a stored value account registered to an account owner;
  • “financial network” means a service network providing financial services applicable to vehicle transactions for one or more toll facilities using one or more financial accounts;
  • “hardware token” means an electronic code to authenticate a person or device stored on an electronic device such as a USB key that is dedicated to storing the token;
  • “image transaction” means a vehicle transaction on a system where the vehicle is identified from an image of the license plate;
  • “IP address” means the Internet Protocol (IP) number used as an electronic identifier in a networked system environment such as a local network or the Internet;
  • “multimedia messaging service” or “MMS” means an electronic message including multimedia including but now limited to images, sounds and full motion video;
  • “open road tolling” or “ORT” means a system that allows vehicle transactions to be processed at highway speeds without customer interaction;
  • “short message service” or “SMS” means an electronic text message to or from a mobile device such as a phone;
  • “software token” means an electronic code to authenticate a person or device stored in an electronic system such as a phone SIM card, magnetic disk or flash drive that is not dedicated to storing the token;
  • “payment card industry” or “PCI” means debit card, credit card, gift cards or other point of sale devices;
  • “registered plate” means a license plate that a customer has registered with a toll system;
  • “unregistered plate” means a license plate that a customer has not registered with a toll system but acquired image based transactions;
  • “vehicle identification number” or “VIN” means the unique number issued by a manufacturer to each motor vehicle; and
  • “X509” means a digital certificate standard for storing identity information of a device or person that is issued and authenticated by a Certificate Authority.
  • Electronic Toll Collection
  • Traditionally electronic toll collection is performed with electronic toll transponders, also called ETC tags, using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to identify a vehicle with an ETC account. These accounts are managed through a customer service center (CSC) which manages the account creation, account replenishment and customer service for toll systems in a region. Customer accounts will normally have an initial balance and are replenished either automatically when the account balance drops below a specified threshold or when the customer pays directly with cash, check or credit card.
  • Each toll system determines if an ETC tag is present and collects information about each vehicle through a form of automatic vehicle classification (AVC) to determine the fare. Image transactions may occur if an ETC is not read in which case the toll facility will employ a violation processing center (VPC) to identify the vehicle by other means such as reading the license plate. Transactions matching valid accounts through ETC or image processing are submitted to the CSC for payment. The CSC will transmit the account status for all registered ETC tags at least once each day to all toll facilities. The toll facility may have several methods for pursuing ETC and violation transactions for payment and will use the ETC status to determine if a CSC account is valid.
  • In one embodiment of the invention, vehicles are required to register their vehicles with each regional toll system or be processed as an image transaction or violation. The ability for vehicles to register once for toll systems occurs on a regional basis.
  • A financial network for processing of toll transactions from multiple regions, without requiring stored value accounts, or through customer managed financial accounts is described. The financial network for vehicle transactions provides a clearinghouse system for one or more toll systems and customers using configurable payment options.
  • Toll Facility Registration
  • Each toll system participating with the financial network for revenue processing must register their toll collection locations on the financial network system. Registration is used to identify the locations receiving payment as well as the expected fare schedules. Both are used to validate the accuracy of transactions when they are submitted for processing.
  • Following registration of the toll locations and fare schedules, the toll facility will perform system acceptance testing by performing a series of tests to verify that the financial network system interfaces are properly configured. The entire transaction process will be performed from beginning to end with proper attention to handling of common processing exceptions.
  • Vehicle Account Registration
  • Each vehicle must be registered on the financial network system by the customer operating the vehicle. The registration may occur through a secure network interface on the device, the financial network's website, a call service center or directly through a registered service provider for the financial network. Each vehicle may be registered to one or more customer financial accounts such as a bank account or credit card. The financial network system controls the processing of each toll to ensure that only one account is charged using business rules for the tolling facility and the customer. The financial network system will maintain the payment history for each vehicle and customer account and use this information to determine the appropriate payment strategy.
  • Customer Account Registration
  • Customer accounts are normally registered at the time the vehicle is registered. A customer will sign up for a financial network account and include their bank account for ACH processing and/or a credit card number. The financial network system can also register fleets of vehicles for processing by a separate payment authority. Fleets may be operated by the vehicle owners such as a rental car company or through customer service centers operated on behalf of the customers such as a toll system.
  • Data Exchange
  • Exchange of information between the financial network system and toll systems is normally maintained through electronic data exchange such as computer files or electronic messages on a network. Each data type is exchanged in a manner to ensure uncorrupted data exchange.
  • Transaction Processing
  • In one embodiment, the financial network system separates transaction processing into three distinct phases: toll transaction processing, vehicle transaction processing, and customer account processing. Each phase of the transaction process will accept the transaction and forward to the next processing module or reject the transaction and return a rejection disposition to the toll facility. The processing modules are controlled through a set of processing strategies which control the implementation of specific business rules. This allows the financial network system to be easily extended as business rules are added or modified.
  • A processing module will perform one or more basic features of validation, system account identification, and transaction processing. Toll transactions will be properly validated prior to the vehicle account identification phase. Each vehicle may have multiple customer accounts.
  • Toll Transaction Processing
  • Each toll system will maintain a vehicle status list (VSL) of all registered financial network system vehicle's as well as the latest status of each account. A full VSL is transmitted reflecting the status of each account as valid or invalid. The VSL includes all identifying features of the vehicle registration such as the RFID of an ETC tag and/or a license plate number. If an account status changes, an incremental update may be sent from the financial network system to the toll system.
  • As an alternative processing method, the toll system may submit a list of vehicle identifiers that was not in a VSL but may be supported by the financial network system. Any vehicle on this list that is currently supported may be submitted to the customer for approval. If approved, it will appear on a new list returned to the toll system acknowledging that payment will be accepted. This process may be allowed once for each transaction or may be allowed multiple times. This provides a low risk process for the toll system to pursue unregistered vehicles and reduce potentially expensive collection fees.
  • Each toll facility is responsible for identifying transactions on their system and transmitting the details to the financial network system for processing in a transaction message. At a minimum, each transaction contains the following information:
      • Location
      • Time
      • Vehicle identification
      • Toll amount
      • Unique toll system id
  • The financial network system will validate each transaction as it is received for consistency and adherence to the business rules configured for each toll authority. These consistency checks may include but are not limited to:
      • Valid tolling location
      • Transaction time within acceptable range
      • Transaction is not a duplicate based on location and time
      • Transaction is not a duplicate based on toll system transaction id
  • In addition to basic transaction consistency, the transactions are verified as unique based on the tag id, license plate or other vehicle identifier. Each toll system may have specific consistency rules but each vehicle identifier may not appear at more than one location within a reasonable period of time or it will be rejected. Once transactions are validated, they are sent to vehicle transaction processing to identify an appropriate customer account.
  • Vehicle Transaction Processing
  • Valid transactions are matched against vehicle information registered on the financial network system. Additional validation is performed to ensure that the vehicle has not been duplicated in another toll location or at another time. Since vehicle account registration can include multiple identification methods such as ETC tags and license plates, each vehicle is checked against multiple accounts. For example, a new license plate transaction should be cross checked against ETC tag transactions where the tag and plate are tied to the same vehicle. This check is essential to identify the following situations:
  • 1. The toll facility associates an ETC tag to a vehicle in the wrong lane
  • 2. The toll facility submits a buffered tag read at the wrong time
  • 3. The toll facility associates the same vehicle image to two transactions
  • Toll systems rely on technology to process electronic toll transactions but environmental or equipment issues may create duplicate vehicle identifiers that cannot be filtered in the Toll Processing phase. The financial network system will reject any duplicate vehicle identified through the account cross check and propagate the rejection back to the toll system. The cross check is typically time based and spans all toll facilities supported by financial network system. It is the responsibility of the toll system to investigate these issues and provide corrective measures. The financial network system can perform adjustments to prior transactions as appropriate including charge backs to accounts.
  • Once the validation is performed, the vehicle account is processed using a predetermined strategy based on business rules associated with the toll system process. Typically a vehicle has only one account but if multiple valid accounts exist, the vehicle may be matched in priority order based on rules such as the most recently registered vehicle or the most recently opened financial network system account.
  • If no valid account exists then the financial network system will return a rejection to the toll system. A matching vehicle account will be submitted to the Payment Processing queue. The vehicle account is a reference to the customer's financial account and contains no sensitive information.
  • Customer Account Processing
  • The financial network system separates account identification from payment processing to restrict access to sensitive payment information from the tolling system. A secure process is employed to maintain currently accepted or required security compliance with the financial account with the transaction id used to uniquely identify the transaction during exchanges between systems. Accounts are submitted for batch processing or real time processing based on the registration information supplied by the customer.
  • Bank account processing requires each customer account to be tied to an account that can be processed through the ACH network. Accounts are grouped by location and sent as batches submitted for ACH processing. The financial network system maintains the transaction in a queue in the event the ACH network returns a rejection for any transactions. If a transaction is rejected for NSF then the financial network system may resubmit the transaction several times before returning a rejection to the toll system.
  • Credit card transactions are submitted to the merchant system for processing. Transactions that are rejected will return a rejection to the toll system. If the card transaction settles properly then the amount will be posted back to the toll interface.
  • Any payment transactions that are rejected will cause the vehicle account record to be flagged as invalid. This change will be queued for transmission to all toll facilities in the next incremental VSL.
  • Additional payment methods may be supported using the appropriate payment processing rules for the type of financial account. The financial network system may attempt to process the transaction through successive financial accounts until one is accepted.
  • Referring now to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows the relationship between the toll facility, transaction processing, vehicle processing, customer processing, and the payment processor. The toll facility first sends the transaction 101 through to transaction processing, which receives the transaction 102. For a transaction which is not valid, transaction processing sends a rejection 103 to the toll facility, which receives the rejection for disposition 110. For a valid transaction, vehicle processing identifies the vehicle 104. If the vehicle is not valid, transaction processing sends a rejection 103 to the toll facility, which receives the disposition 110. For a valid vehicle, the customer is identified 105 and customer processing determines that the customer has a valid account 106. The account is charged 107 and payment processed 108 by the payment processor. If the payment is not posted a rejection is sent through transaction processing 103 to the toll facility, which receives the disposition 110. If the payment is posted, acceptance is sent 109 to the toll facility, which receives the disposition 110.
  • Referring now to FIG. 2, the customer registers the vehicle 201 and the financial network accepts registration 202. The financial network updates the active vehicle list 203 and provides the updated list to the toll facility 204. The toll facility receives the list 205. When the customer uses the toll facility 206, the toll facility detects the vehicle 207 and requests payment 208. The financial network processes the payment from the customer's designated account 209 and makes the payment to the toll facility 211. The toll facility receives payment 212 concluding the transaction. Optionally, the customer may be notified 210 at the time the payment is processed from the designated account 209.
  • Referring now to FIG. 3, wherein the customer registers vehicle A to account #1 and vehicle B to account #2 301. The financial network accepts the registration of both vehicles 302, updates the active vehicle list for vehicle A and vehicle B 303 and provides updated lists to the toll facility 304. The toll facility receives the updated list 305. When the customer uses the toll facility with vehicle A 306, the toll facility detects that vehicle 307. The toll facility then requests payment from account #1 308. The financial network attempts to process payment from account #1 309. If account #1 is closed or otherwise inactive, the financial network will process the request from account #2 310. The financial network will then make payment to the toll facility from either account #1 or, if account #1 is closed or otherwise unavailable, from account #2 312. The toll facility will receive payment 313 and conclude the transaction. Optionally, the financial network may notify the customer 311 if account #1 is closed or at such time as the transaction is processed from either account #1 or account #2.
  • Referring now to FIG. 4, wherein a customer rents a vehicle 401 and registers the vehicle 402 with the financial network. The financial network accepts the registration 403. The customer uses the toll facility 404 and the toll facility detects the vehicle 405. The toll facility requests payment 406 from the financial network. The financial network matches the vehicle with the customer 407 and sends a message to the customer 408 requesting authorization for the toll transaction. The customer authorizes payment 409 and the financial network processes payment from the customer's designated account 410. The financial network then makes payment to the toll facility 411 and the toll facility receives payment 412 concluding the transaction.
  • While the present system and method has been disclosed according to the preferred embodiment of the invention, those of ordinary skill in the art will understand that other embodiments have also been enabled. Even though the foregoing discussion has focused on particular embodiments, it is understood that other configurations are contemplated. In particular, even though the expressions “in one embodiment” or “in another embodiment” are used herein, these phrases are meant to generally reference embodiment possibilities and are not intended to limit the invention to those particular embodiment configurations. These terms may reference the same or different embodiments, and unless indicated otherwise, are combinable into aggregate embodiments. The terms “a”, “an” and “the” mean “one or more” unless expressly specified otherwise. The term “connected” means “communicatively connected” unless otherwise defined.
  • When a single embodiment is described herein, it will be readily apparent that more than one embodiment may be used in place of a single embodiment. Similarly, where more than one embodiment is described herein, it will be readily apparent that a single embodiment may be substituted for that one device.
  • In light of the wide variety of transportation systems, the detailed embodiments are intended to be illustrative only and should not be taken as limiting the scope of the invention. Rather, what is claimed as the invention is all such modifications as may come within the spirit and scope of the following claims and equivalents thereto.
  • None of the description in this specification should be read as implying that any particular element, step or function is an essential element which must be included in the claim scope. The scope of the patented subject matter is defined only by the allowed claims and their equivalents. Unless explicitly recited, other aspects of the present invention as described in this specification do not limit the scope of the claims.

Claims (13)

1. A method for processing transactions, comprising:
registration of a customer's vehicle and financial account with a processor;
transmittal of information regarding said vehicle to a toll facility;
detection of said vehicle by said toll facility;
notification of said processor that said vehicle has been detected at said toll facility;
payment of fees for said customer's use of said toll facility by debiting said customer's financial account and paying said toll facility.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the toll facility is a parking facility.
3. The method of claim 1, wherein said information includes said vehicle's license plate number.
4. The method of claim 1, wherein said information is said vehicle's Vehicle Identification Number.
5. The method of claim 1, wherein said vehicle is detected by said toll facility through a barcode affixed to said vehicle.
6. The method of claim 1, wherein said vehicle is detected by said toll facility through a radio frequency identification device associated with said vehicle.
7. The method of claim 1, wherein said vehicle is detected by said toll facility through an active networking device associated with said vehicle.
8. The method of claim 1, wherein said registration is performed online by said customer.
9. The method of claim 1, wherein said customer receives notification of said payment on said customer's communication device.
10. The method of claim 1, wherein said customer is requested to authorize said payment prior to said payment being made to said toll facility.
11. The method of claim 1, wherein, at the time of registration or thereafter, said customer designates a financial account for processing said payment when utilizing said toll facility during certain periods of time and designates another financial account for processing said payment when utilizing said toll facility during other periods.
12. The method of claim 1, wherein said customer receives notification of said payment on said customer's communication device and said customer is provided with an option to refuse said payment.
13. The method of claim 1, wherein when said financial account is closed or contains insufficient funds to make said payment, said payment is made through another account designated by said customer.
US12/859,037 2009-08-18 2010-08-18 Vehicle transaction system and method Abandoned US20110208568A1 (en)

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US12/859,113 Active 2032-05-28 US9691061B2 (en) 2009-08-18 2010-08-18 Method and system for electronic toll payment
US15/599,250 Pending US20170255918A1 (en) 2009-08-18 2017-05-18 Method and System for Electronic Toll Payment
US16/170,985 Pending US20190066082A1 (en) 2009-08-18 2018-10-25 Parking structure payment system
US16/172,176 Pending US20190066083A1 (en) 2009-08-18 2018-10-26 Service window payment system

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US15/599,250 Pending US20170255918A1 (en) 2009-08-18 2017-05-18 Method and System for Electronic Toll Payment
US16/170,985 Pending US20190066082A1 (en) 2009-08-18 2018-10-25 Parking structure payment system
US16/172,176 Pending US20190066083A1 (en) 2009-08-18 2018-10-26 Service window payment system

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