Survey Validates PayByCar’s Plans to Scale E-ZPass Program

With app use low among fuel customers, transponder tech company aims to expand
EZ Pass
Photograph: Shutterstock

About one in 20 consumers report using a loyalty app from fuel brands or convenience stores, leaving plenty of room for other ways to ease the process of paying for gasoline and gaining loyalty points, said Anand Raman, president, co-founder and chief operating officer at PayByCar Inc.

PayByCar, based in Highland, New York, offers a loyalty-and-payment program based on the E-ZPass transponders used for collecting tolls automatically. Its pay-by-text service is in use at 27 Alltown convenience-store locations in the Northeast, which are owned by Global Partners LP, Waltham, Massachusetts.

PayByCar also has launched a pilot with other fuel retailers in Massachusetts and New York and plans to roll out the program in New York this year, Raman said.

“It’s no longer an idea. We’re looking at discussions around scaling,” Raman told CSP Daily News. The E-ZPass technology provides new possibilities for remote purchasing, such as for parking or drive-thru purchases, he said. PayByCar said it is the only private company to have an agreement with E-ZPass to use it commercially, Raman said.

Anand Raman

The transponder notifies PayByCar when the car pulls into a fuel station, and the company sends a text prompting the driver to input the pump number. The fuel purchase is processed using the credit or debit card the consumer has provided PayByCar, eliminating the need to download an app or pull out a credit card to pay. The company texts a receipt to the user after the purchase is completed.

PayByCar commissioned the random survey of 1,312 drivers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states in March to obtain more information on how consumers use apps at fuel stations and convenience stores.

“Being a loyalty member doesn’t mean you’ve downloaded the app,” Raman said. About 54% of respondents said they have signed up for a loyalty program, but many of them don’t use apps, he said.

Three out of four respondents said they use a credit card or debit card to pay at the pump, and less than 5% said they use an e-wallet to pay for gasoline, according to PayByCar. Most of the respondents said they purchase branded fuels, including Shell, Exxon Mobil, Sunoco and bp and Chevron.

While the brands have been marketing their apps for years, most consumers are still swiping their credit cards to pay, Raman said.

Just 6% said they used a loyalty app from a fuel brand or convenience store, according to the survey results.

Among app users, half say they use them “always,” while others use them “rarely.” When asked, one in five app users said they disliked having to look for the app and open it. A similar proportion said apps are too slow to load.

The results are validation of PayByCar’s concept of using the E-ZPass, Raman said. “It has validated our strategy around how do we want to move forward with scaling,” he said. E-ZPass was the first contactless payment, Raman said. “That’s where the magic happened.”

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