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Monday, December 7, 2020

Consumers keen on pay-at-pump for gas, food

Gas stations with automated fuel dispensers may have been given additional time to bring their pumps into compliance with EMV protocols, but that doesn’t mean consumers are content with the status quo. In fact, a majority of consumers prefer paying for fuel at EMV-compliant pumps, and better than half would be willing to order and pay for in-store items (like food and drinks) while at the pump, according to a new survey by Transaction Network Services.

Most businesses were given a deadline of October 2015 to upgrade POS devices to conform with EMV security requirements or risk assuming liability for counterfeit cards and fraudulent payments that could be traced back to compromises of their non-compliant terminals. But the card companies allowed businesses with automated fuel dispensers additional time to get their devices into compliance. Initially the deadline was extended to October 2017, but that was eventually stretched to October 2020, and early in 2020, the deadline was extended by another six months. As it stands now, pay-at-the-pump devices need to be EMV compliant by April 2021.

Even after five-plus years of deferments, however, many gas stations are seriously behind the compliance curve. A survey conducted last summer by Conexxus, a technology consultant to convenience stores and fuel stations, revealed that just 61 percent of the operators of gas stations and c-stores with automated fuel dispensers expect their devices to be EMV compliant by April. Perhaps more importantly, only 10 percent of automated fuel dispenser locations expect to be fully compliant by then. Perhaps not surprisingly, respondents "with lower store counts are much more optimistic,” Conexxus wrote in a recent report.

Getting beyond compliance

Operators of pay-at-the-pump locales have long complained that upgrading to EMV technology is too costly. Estimates put the price at between $6,000 and $12,000 per pump. Stores with older pumps that need to replaced outright could see that tab increase to as much as $20,000 per pump.

But the cost of inaction could be high too, and not just in terms liability for fraud tied to compromised devices. The TNS survey revealed that consumers prefer gassing up where they can pay at EMV-compliant pumps.

Seventy-eight percent of consumers told TNS they prefer pay-at-the-pump, when available, over transacting with a cashier. Sixty-five percent said they preferred to use pay-at-the-pump facilities that employ EMV chip readers, and 39 percent said they actively seek out pay-at-pump facilities that have installed EMV chip readers at their pumps.

“Consumers armed with EMV chip cards from their banks and card schemes have successfully been educated on how this is improving the security of their sensitive cardholder data and appear to be keen to do their part by voting with their feet and selecting EMV chip readers,” TNS wrote in its report, Exploring the influence of EMV, Coronavirus and secure commerce options on consumer pay-at-pump adoption.

Pandemic impact on pay-at-pump preferences

The TNS survey, fielded in September, revealed the COVID-19 pandemic is pushing more consumers to pay at the pump and to be open to paying for other items from the pump, too. Nearly six in 10 consumers (59 percent) surveyed said COVID-19 has made them more willing to make payments at the pump than they were just a year ago. Asked if the pandemic has made them more willing to make additional purchases at the pump (for example, ordering drinks, food and groceries) that could then be delivered to their cars, 54 percent said yes, TNS reported.

A majority of consumers who purchase fuel for their cars (55 percent of those surveyed) already purchase items other than fuel while at gas stations, doing so by going inside stores. Among those consumers, 60 percent said they spent up to $20 on other items, 31 percent spend between $20 and $49, and 9 percent spend $50 or more.

“Consumers using automated fuel dispensers are a captive audience and innovative retailers will seek to harness this opportunity by undertaking marketing and selling activities at the pump itself,” TNS wrote. end of article

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