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Doubts over pay-at-pump petrol station growth

Date: 28 March 2014   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

Pay-at-pump facilities at petrol station forecourts may not become as common as previously expected. 

The service, championed by supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda and Morrisons, allows drivers to pay for fuel at the pump itself rather than walking into the kiosk after fuelling.

The convenience measure has been expected to become more popular than traditional manned forecourts, but that's unlikely to happen according to Callum Gibson, managing director of fuel card giant Allstar. 

Speaking to BusinessCar, he said there was still a relatively small number of pay-at-pump facilities in the UK: "The ability to pay at pump is going to be very much reliant on the merchant and how quickly they deploy pay-at-pump terminals.

"At the moment, we are still very much 'you go into the shop, you swipe, you pay in the shop'. We still don't have a significant amount of OPTs (outside payment terminals) in the UK." 

He acknowledged that the measure was popular on supermarket forecourts, but added that most other petrol retailers preferred to get drivers in-store to boost ancillary sales, and were unlikely to move to pay-at-pump across the board for this reason. 

"It tends to be the supermarkets doing it. You see a lot of major oil merchants trying to drive customers in-store.

"BP has done a lot of work with Marks and Spencer, for example; Esso is often next to a Tesco Express.

"When you speak to the major oil merchants they see a lot of worth in-store. You can get your fuel and pick up the day's groceries or whatever you need. 

"I think, as these strategies play out, the movement towards OPTs may increase or decrease. If it's literally [the case that] they've got a high-volume site and they just want to put vehicles through it as quickly as possible then OPTs absolutely make sense, but if they're serving another need then I think you might see them not take off as anticipated." 

Gibson's comments come shortly before the Allstar fuel card switches from a signature-based system to chip-and-pin payment.

The shift is due to take place in April and he said it would allow users to operate the card in the same way as a personal credit or debit card.

It will also allow the card to be used at pay-at-pump terminals, where it cannot be used for payment at present.