DRIVERS HAVE long been told not to use their phone at a petrol station, but in an apparent about-turn Shell is positively encouraging it, by introducing a smartphone payment system. The company has joined forces with PayPal, the online payment service, and says it plans to become the first British fuel retailer to offer a mobile payment facility at pumps nationwide.
The system uses QR code technology, which requires a user to have a QR reader app installed on their smartphone. The driver will scan a QR code on the side of each pump that says what fuel they are taking. This sends a notification to the user’s PayPal account, which transfers the required funds once fuel has been dispensed.
It is similar in principle to the PayPal technology in shops such as Pret A Manger and Pizza Express, which generates one-off codes containing the amount to be paid.
Shell says drivers must remain in their vehicle when scanning the QR code with their smartphone. “We want our customers to remain attentive and aware on our forecourts without the distraction of looking at their mobile phones. This is why the mobile payment is an in-vehicle experience.” The process has been approved by the London fire brigade.
Members of the Shell Drivers Club, a customer loyalty programme, will be able to use the system from April. Later in the year the technology will be made available to all drivers.
The in-car payment system could be good news for drivers with little willpower and bad news for retailers. It will remove the need to visit the kiosk and take away the temptation to buy a cup of coffee and doughnut.