With all the announcements about mobile payments over the past few weeks I’ve been hearing, in my mind, the sound of an older cash register when the total button was pushed, and thinking that it should become the ringtone for mobile payments.
Clearly all of the players in the mobile arena – I rattled off over a half dozen of them during my recent presentation on Mobile Payments at the NACS Show – believe there is a market for mobile payment acceptance, specific to our industry, centered around pay at the pump. Here’s a round-up of some of the recent announcements.
MasterCard announced just in time for the NACS Show their partnership with P97, (named from a throwback to the pay-at-the-pump technology developed in 1997), to drive payments and savings through mobile phones at the pump and inside a convenience store.
Chevron USA Inc. and VISA announced, around the same time, their joint plans for a 20 plus store pilot of mobile payments at the pump program to launch this fall. In their announcement they said that security is at the core of the mobile purchasing experience. Each transaction will be authorized through the Visa Token Service, which uses a unique digital identifier to process consumer payments without exposing actual account details.
MCX with their CurrentC mobile app has many convenience petroleum partners; Alon, Circle K, Exxon/Mobil, Kum & Go, Kwik Trip, Phillips 66, RaceTrac, Sheetz, Shell, Wawa and others. And, “cha-ching”, MCX announced just a few weeks back that they are expanding their pilot program in Columbus, Ohio which “will soon grow to include select local Exxon, Mobil and Shell fuel” locations according to CEO Brian Mooney.
Money20/20 is the largest global event focused on payments and financial services innovation and a couple of announcements at their event toward the end of October focused on mobile payment providers who believe they have great solutions for the convenience industry. Chase announced Chase Pay and that MCX will be their premier partner.
Following that partnership announcement, we heard the “cha-ching” from P97 again – “With the combination of P97’s PetroZone mobile commerce platform and Chase Pay we are thrilled to deliver more payment options to consumers at the pump,” said Donald Frieden, president and CEO of P97. “We are confident this combined solution will deliver an innovative mobile payment experience for the retail fuels market customer.”
SAP, the market leader in enterprise application software, with their SAP Vehicles Network took another step into our industry. They are bringing together connected car stakeholders – auto manufacturers, fueling, entertainment, parking, etc. in a business-to-business network to monetize connected services. FIS, the world’s largest global provider dedicated to banking and payments technologies, and P97 have established separate technology agreements with SAP that will help enable mobile payments and the delivery of location-based offers including fuel, parking, food and consumer packaged goods to consumers’ automobile telematics systems (will you hear “cha-ching” coming from your car’s audio system?) or mobile devices. FIS says their “offering in North America will eliminate the need for any physical interaction with a fuel pump to pre-authorize payment, activate the pump or complete the payment transaction.”
As my colleague from W. Capra, Doug Rodewald, said during his remarks at the “Mobile Payment Solutions” educational session at the 2015 NACS Show, “We are beyond if mobile payment will happen, but when.” Industry analysts expect to see significant merchant acceptance of contactless, cloud-based fueling in North America by 2017.
I continue to stand by my comments made at the same session – “mobile payments need to be considered as one component of your mobile commerce strategy.” Your ‘mobile app’, from which the customer will ultimately pay, needs to have pricing info to drive people to your forecourt, and then to get the customer inside the store digital offers –today’s special, whether personalized and/or with a digital coupon, the capability to order ahead and more. The best sounding “cha-ching” will sound when the customer experience brings the forecourt and in-store experience together rather than focusing on each separately. It appears there is still time before we hear that “cha-ching” but clearly we are on a road to accept mobile payments.
Ed Collupy, executive consultant at W. Capra Consulting Group can be reached at [email protected]. Be sure to visit www.capraplus.com for more retail technology insights. Collupy has IT leadership and business team experience directing and supporting retail systems for store operations, merchandising, fuel and accounting teams in the C-Store industry.