The COVID-19 pandemic sped up digital disruption, with businesses rushing to enable contactless payment options from EMV to mobile wallets.
“The accelerated move to contactless payments has been driven by the major card issuing banks, which expedited the issuing of contactless cards, and the retailers who accelerated the software and hardware changes needed to implement contactless EMV,” said Perry Kramer, managing partner, Retail Consulting Partners.
In the pandemic, “we consistently see consumers associating speed with safety in every retail segment,” he added.
And contactless payments are fast.
Most c-stores are making transactions easier, safer and quicker for customers, agreed Mark Cosenza, senior vice president, for Waltham, Mass.-based Global Partners, which operates nearly 300 company-owned c-stores. “Many customers don’t want to have to pull out their wallets anymore. They want to pay by phone. Younger generations were already starting to expect that, but COVID moved everyone in that direction.”
When COVID-19 arrived, Global Partners was already working toward introducing touchless payment options at its c-stores. “As with many things, COVID accelerated our timeline,” said Cosenza. “To minimize the risk of transmitting COVID, customers need to be able to purchase goods without touching a keypad.”
Global Partners has implemented PayByCar, a vehicle payment solution, at its 30 Alltown convenience stores in Massachusetts, allowing customers to pay for gas and other products via their mobile device.
“The PayByCar technology uses the text app available on every smartphone,” Cosenza said.
Once customers enroll in PayByCar, their car’s E-ZPass toll transponder is recognized, and a welcome message requests the pump number. Vehicles without a toll transponder can use PayByCar’s non-toll sticker to enroll.
“If buying gas, you enter the pump number, which instantly turns the pump on,” he said. “You pump your gas, and when finished, an electronic payment is automatically completed and PayByCar sends a receipt by text.”
Customers can also use contactless through the Alltown Insider app — both at the pump and inside the store.
“Many of our legacy brand sites currently accept Near Field Communication (NFC) as a touchless payment option,” Cosenza said. “We have a new app that will be announced soon.”
In 2021, convenience stores with fuel pumps face the April 2021 deadline to implement EMV at the pump to avoid
And mobile payment acceptance continues to grow, especially when it comes to well-known platforms. Retail Consulting Partners’ “2021 POS/Customer Experience Survey” found 70% of retailers outside of c-stores are accepting Paypal and Apple Pay.
“This is a very significant increase from two years ago,” Kramer said. By contrast 80% of retailers are taking a ‘wait-and-see’ approach to emerging payment trends, such as Alipay and WeChat Pay.