CITGO, Heartland Join Forces on Network Services

SmartLink streamlines network operations

HOUSTON -- CITGO Petroleum Corp. is now offering Heartland Payment Systems' SmartLink network services to its marketers and retailers at nearly 6,500 CITGO-branded gas stations in the United States. SmartLink technology consolidates multiple in-store devices onto one high-speed broadband line, enabling business owners to lower telecommunication costs, save time and resources and manage their businesses more efficiently.

"Since one of the biggest challenges facing our industry is data security and Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance, we turned to SmartLink technology to [image-nocss] help our retailers protect sensitive data and meet PCI standards," said Jonathan Watson, manager of business services and payment cards for CITGO. "CITGO marketers also face complex network connectivity issues and SmartLink is a great way to help streamline them."

SmartLink is a secure, managed network service that supports both transactional data and backoffice systems, allowing petroleum and convenience store operators to spend less time managing their networks. SmartLink provides merchants with monitored communications for automatic tank gauges, in-store environmental control systems, backoffice systems, digital signs, email and internet.

In addition, SmartLink's payment gateway provides a SSL network to support transactions generated by point-of-sale (POS) systems, money-order, check cashing, ATM and fleet card terminals. Dial or cellular back up is included to provide a secondary communication in the event of a broadband line outage.

Bill McCollough, Heartland's executive director of petroleum, said, "Utilizing SmartLink technology, CITGO retailers can overcome common industry issues by easily connecting their POS systems and in-store payment and backoffice devices. Additionally, they can eliminate dial connectivity, enhance transaction security and reduce transaction processing times."

SmartLink operates on any broadband circuit, including the CITGO high-speed Sprint 4G/3G wireless broadband network, and can be scaled to reduce expenses and improve operations for single-store and multi-store operators.

Heartland is one of the largest payments processors in the c-store and petroleum industry, offering a comprehensive suite of products and services including card processing, gift marketing, prepaid services, check management, payroll services and more.

Princeton, N.J.-based Heartland Payment Systems, the fifth largest payments processor in the United States, delivers credit/debit/prepaid card processing, gift marketing and loyalty programs, payroll, check management and related business solutions to more than 250,000 business locations nationwide. It is also a leader in the development of end-to-end encryption technology designed to protect cardholder data, rendering it useless to cyber criminals.

CITGO, based in Houston, is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals and other industrial products. The company is owned by PDV America Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

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