RESTON, Va. — The first pay-at-the-pump terminal in the United States debuted in 1986 at a Mobil-branded site, and since then, consumers here have roundly embraced the capability. A recent report by Transaction Network Services (TNS), a Reston, Va.-based payment connectivity provider, found that the appetite for accomplishing even more at the pump is growing. TNS surveyed more than 3,100 consumers in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia for its report The Market Opportunity for Secure Commerce at the Pump.
Here are seven takeaways on consumers’ embrace of payment at the pump …
1. Americans have embraced paying at the pump
U.S. consumers are more likely to prefer paying at the pump than consumers in the United Kingdom and Australia. According to the TNS study, 77% of U.S. respondents had a high overall preference, compared to 61% globally.
Regardless of the age group and gender, most Americans have a high preference for paying at the pump, with 45- to 54-year-olds trending slightly higher than other age groups.
2. Security concerns are higher at independent sites
On a global basis, most consumers—73%—said they would be OK with using pay-at-the-pump, regardless of whether the retailer is part of a large chain or an independent. But U.S. consumers tended to be more concerned than those in other countries about security at small, independent locations. U.S. fuel retailers are currently in different stages of upgrading their dispenser point-of-sale systems to meet outside EMV standards, with the liability shift deadline hitting in October 2020.
3. Paying for in-store items at the pump has potential
Fifty-eight percent of U.S. consumers said they have often purchased items other than gasoline at the pump, which could include services such as a car wash.
Paying at the pump for in-store items in advance was popular with 54% of U.S. consumers, with the highest interest among consumers younger than 44. It was particularly popular with 25- to 34-year-old U.S. consumers, 71% of whom considered this capability a positive option.
4. Men are especially interested in food purchases at the pump
More than half of U.S. men (51%) and 36% of women said they would like to be able to order and pay for prepared food at the pump—a gender difference that repeated itself among consumers in the U.K. and Australia.
Consumers were also supportive of having prepared food delivered to the vehicle while it was filling up; this is especially true among 18- to 34-year-olds, 60% of whom were supportive of the option.
5. Fuel loyalty programs are popular with young males
U.S. consumers were more likely to have a fuel loyalty card and use their points to purchase fuel, including 60% of men and 51% of women.
In the U.S., consumers ages 25-44 old were most active, with male consumers 25-34 years old most likely to have used fuel loyalty points to make a purchase.
7. Fuel discounts are powerful motivators
Across the three regions, 76% of consumers said they would be willing to buy gas from a specific brand or location if it offered them reward points. Seventy-three percent of U.S. consumers said they would be willing to make in-store purchases to get instant discounts on fuel.
“There is evidence which suggests that consumers are looking to engage in more secure commerce opportunities at the pump,” the TNS report concluded. “What’s more, this could signal a shift in the mix of revenue potential for gas stations from gasoline to value-added services.”
The online survey of more than 3,100 consumers was conducted Sept. 5-9, 2019, by Kantar on behalf of TNS and included 1,029 responses from the United States, roughly split by gender, age and region.