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Gas Station Customers to Pay the High-Tech Way

[Dec 6, 2007.]


Motorists in Chicago have a new, high-tech method of paying for their gasoline.

Nearly a dozen gas stations in this Midwestern city are using something called biometric pay systems. Paying the biometric way means having your fingertip scanned. The scan connects automatically to your credit card account or checking account, allowing you to pay by finger.

As Shell executive Chris Suess told the news media, "When we talk to customers, they're always looking for ways to make buying gasoline quicker and easier, and always looking for ways to make their transactions faster and more secure. They don't want to carry more cards, kits and key chains, and they want it to be free."

Under the pay by touch system, gas station customers can have their fingerprints scanned at a kiosk and can add their payment info at the station or online.

In addition to the biometric device, Shell is unveiling a number of other high-tech gadgets at its stations. For instance, you'll be able to watch the news, weather, and sports at the pump, thanks to a digital screen. Hand-held wireless devices will also permit full-service customers to pay electronically.

There are many reasons for the technological innovations. For one thing, they heighten convenience—something gas customers are looking for. For another, they can help increase customer loyalty, since customers may come to really appreciate the high-tech service. The innovations will also help to separate Shell from its competition, making it an industry leader, technology-wise.

Pay by touch systems are already in place in a number of supermarkets, including Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, and Albertson's. The International Biometric Group expects its revenues from touch pay systems to increase to more than $7 billion in the year 2012, more than doubling over the next five years. Of course, shoppers who are leery of technology may be slow to embrace such systems, considering them to be indicative of "Big Brother" staring over their shoulders at the cash register. But, for those who prize high-tech convenience, pay by touch systems may be the wave of the future.

Julie Ann Amos
December 6th 2007

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