Shell have teamed up with PayPal to give customers the option of paying for fuel via their smartphone. This new technology is set to revolutionise forecourt payment, but only if you don’t need anything from the shop!
After downloading the app customers need to sync it with their PayPal account before using. They will then simply pull up at the pump as usual, and while still seated, open the app to pre pay. The customer chooses the amount of money they wish to spend on fuel then scan the QR code on the pump itself. Once the app recognises the pump it will send a message to it and the pump will show when fuelling can begin.
As you all know, using a mobile phone on a petrol forecourt is forbidden. Many people think it is because the internal workings of the phone can somehow ignite fuel vapour, the risk actually comes from people dropping their phones. A phone could spark as it lands on the concrete or if it smashes. The rules for using this new app clearly state the user must remain in the car at all times, the QR codes on the pumps are sufficiently big to allow you to scan from your car. Shell have teamed up with the London Fire Brigade on this project and have had approval of mobile phone use from inside the car.
It remains to be seen if this idea will change how you pay for fuel in the future but there is no doubt there is a public desire to pay for everything via their smartphones. There will be teething problems and because of the multitude of different smartphones on the market there could be issues with newer phones working and older ones not. Many people don’t have a PayPal account and may have some issues syncing the app too. Of course, the other issue here is that some people want to go into the shop to pick up some food when they get fuel. However, Shell say these people will have a smaller queue because less people will be paying for fuel in the shop itself and using the app instead. This technology will certainly help in busy “town” petrol stations with high visitor numbers.
Shell are aiming to roll this technology out over their 1000 stations, many of which are in the UK so keep an eye out for people sitting in their cars at the pumps waving their phones about.