With EMV deadline looming, fuel stations get multi-channel tech pitch

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If time seems to move faster when a payments compliance deadline is looming, then owners of gas station/convenience stores in the U.S. will feel like October of 2020 will be upon them in no time.

That's when the gas pumps and POS terminals at the convenience stores have to convert to EMV chip card acceptance or accept fraud liability. Because of the cost and complexities of converting fuel pumps to accept chips, the petroleum industry got an extension beyond the retailer liability shift for EMV that took place in October 2015.

Since then, it has been common to see some gas station franchises seeking mobile pay and in-car payment options to bypass the costly EMV upgrades at the fuel pumps. Others have boosted anti-skimming precautions at the pump, or having only some pumps accepting chip cards. Still, others are considering to let the EMV deadline pass altogether without changes.
"The biggest trend I’ve been following in this vertical is mobile pay-at-the-pump and in-vehicle fuel payments," said Jordan McKee, senior payments analyst with 451 Research. "There are a variety of startups targeting the fuel vertical, such as PaybyCar and P97 Networks, that aim to move payment for fuel to the smartphone or the in-vehicle infotainment system."

Earlier this year, Transaction Network Services, focusing on data communications and interoperability solutions, worked with P97 to provide tokenization for in-car fuel payments. The idea was to create an alternative to EMV chip card adoption at the stations.

But TNS has another message for fuel pump operators. Its newest partnership is with WannLynx, which integrates payments from pumps to POS terminals and also controls cloud-based onscreen videos, shopping carts and coupons at the pumps.

Their collaboration focuses on providing convenience stores the opportunity to upgrade a system to deliver customized, value-added offers to customers while they are pumping gas — with the benefit being that an increase in sales from this type of marketing can help finance the EMV conversion at the pumps.

"Our objective is to overlay some additional capabilities at the pump while the EMV technology is being added, in order for merchants to drive more commerce," said Dan Lyman, head of payments in North America for TNS. "This is creating another point of digital interaction with the consumer when they are at the fuel dispenser for those four or five minutes."

TNS and WannLynx will soon test a payment system designed to allow the merchant to identify the customer is at the pump, then provide specific offers or discounts for in-store products in real time based on the customer's past purchases. In addition, the system allows merchants to display video advertisements from third parties, thus generating another revenue stream.

The National Association of Convenience Stores did not respond to a PaymentsSource inquiry by deadline.

TNS says it provides the data communication software that enables all technical applications to flow through a single, secure connection to the fuel pump video and audio displays.

WannLynx operates technology that allows the store owner to customize those messages both at the pump and in the store, giving the merchant control over what content and message is delivered.

TNS and WannLynx can provide the tools, but it is "up to the merchants and retailers who know best how to market to their customers," Lyman said. "We are doing the best we can to help be part of the thinking on the technology upgrades as the merchants make these decisions."

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