Kevin Condon’s idea for a new way to pay for gasoline developed over many slow Friday trips from Boston to his old home in Truro.
It started, as it often happens, as a way to solve an entirely different problem. A businessman with experience in transportation and public policy, Condon wondered how to get people to buy more fuel efficient vehicles. Could we institute a variable gasoline tax linked to the efficiency of a vehicle? Could there be a way to identify a vehicle at a gas pump?
“There is no more price sensitive place in the world than a gas pump,” he said.
Large signs advertise gasoline prices per gallon down to a tenth of a dime. In addition, people will travel further afield to a station that offers cheaper gasoline. While this is a great idea, he said, it wasn’t a bankable idea.
Eventually, Condon’s idea turned into an idea that could allow for an easier way to pay for gas. With PayByCar, he envisioned something that would work the same as toll transponders on highways, where charges are automatically deposited to a credit card registered with the device.
Drivers are already shopping for things every day from the comfort of their cars, from morning coffee to fast food. According to an internal Condon survey of 150 drivers in January, 90% of Massachusetts drivers buy something in their cars once a week, and one in three do so daily, he said.
Meanwhile, gas demand remains high for motorists in the United States
“Americans spend $ 600 billion a year on gas,” Condon said.
If you could identify a car at a gas pump, people wouldn’t have to search their wallets, swipe their credit or debit cards, enter PIN numbers or postal codes or other information needed at gas pumps. gasoline. They also wouldn’t have to wait for a paper receipt to print.
“It can all go away,” Condon said.
How it works?
In 2018, PayByCar signed an agreement with the E-ZPass group to use its transponders for non-chargeable purposes. The electronic toll system had 27 million accounts in 19 states in 2020.
“The E-ZPass group wants to increase the value of toll transponders beyond paying tolls, as a reason for more drivers to get a toll transponder,” said Condon. “This is increasingly important as fully electronic tolling is used by toll agencies.”
With PayByCar, users would need a transponder or sticker with an ID number and a smartphone to register for the program. They assign a credit card to a PayByCar account on the transponder which is separate from the one used to pay tolls via E-ZPass. Motorists without a transponder can get a free sticker that they can affix to their windshield that allows them to participate in the program.
Antennas on the roofs of pump platforms at participating gas stations are used to recognize a car’s transponder and send a text to the customer’s smartphone. A customer should respond with the pump number, at which point the PayByCar software automatically turns that pump on, records the transaction, debits the credit card from the account, and sends an electronic receipt via SMS.
If a car does not have a transponder, the readers send invoices to the address linked to the car’s license plate.
Condon estimates that the procedure eliminates 12 points of contact and reduces about 80 seconds a typical fill.
It’s free for customers to sign up for PayByCar, and retailers pay PayByCar to provide its service, Condon said. Retailers must also pay the cost of purchasing the equipment to participate. Thanks to PayByCar, retailers can also offer their customers discounts through the program.
Looking to develop yourself
In early 2019, Condon negotiated a one-year pilot agreement with Global Partners, which owns, operates or supplies 1,500 service stations in the northeast. The pilot project was launched in spring 2019 at four Alltown service stations in Wellesley, Framingham, Westborough and Marlborough.
“We had to fix the problems,” Condon said.
More than 500 people have signed up for the pilot program and PayByCar signed an agreement in December to equip all 27 Massachusetts Alltown gas stations with the equipment needed for the program, including those in Centerville, Mashpee, Orleans and Yarmouth.
Now the business is ready to expand further. PayByCar is launching its campaign to increase public registrations this week, just in time for the start of the summer season.
The company is in discussions with other retailers, as well as banks and credit unions, to expand the use of the service beyond gas stations, and Condon said there was real potential for that. the program is expanding into the wider market. Unlike Apple Pay or Google Wallet, PayByCar is text-based and doesn’t require an app. The program is also compatible with all smartphones.
“Imagine if you have one thing that works everywhere,” Condon said. “Retailers are finding that consumers are less willing to clutter their phones with apps. What if you had something that was independent from the retailer? “
Contact Denise Coffey at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @DeniseCoffeyCCT.