By Andrew Russell, President of Sound Payments –
There is no doubt that station owners are busy. They are multi-taskers and often spend long hours working. Updating their pumps for EMV is not an attractive venture for them. They see it as investing in something that provides little return on that investment. However, I want to share some thoughts on how it does truly benefit the station owner in addition to complying with a mandate that prevents fraud.
Many gas stations are starting to feel the impact of chargebacks at an alarming rate. Some stations are making their customers come inside with a pay-inside note slapped on the front of the pump – many of us just move on to the next station if we must come inside the pay, which usually result in long lines. How much business is lost as a result?
Upgrading means that you are preventing chargebacks AND the loss of customers. EMV upgrading provides you new technology that has additional capabilities like contactless payments. Depending on the solution you choose, it can support future innovation at a lower price. With our solution, once you retrofit your pump, the system is connected to our cloud which allows for us to easily enable new technology in the future. With Sound Payments Internet of Things (IOT) ecosystem, we are developing solutions that allow a station owner to oversee and control the entire C-Store/gas station with capabilities such as online ordering, advertising, security and surveillance, CRM loyalty programs, inventory and price control, POS systems and kiosks.
Initially, the only solution to enable EMV offered in the market was a full replacement of pumps at each fueling point.
The main reason station owners are hesitant to upgrade their gas stations to accept EMV payments is cost and downtime. Another major obstacle to upgrades is a shortage of technical personnel to conduct the upgrades. Buying new pumps and systems is out of reach for many in the industry. Many of the retrofit solutions available are costly, irreversible, require a full integration and are limited by the number of certifications.
You do have options, some more affordable than others.
To compare price (because really that’s what the station owners want to know), a new pump system costs more than $18,000 per pump and most of the retrofits out there cost more than $9,000. This doesn’t include any additional annual fees or the loss of revenue from station downtime.
For many stations, a third-party retrofit like Sound Easy Pump™ is the way to go. Our partners, such as Freedom Electronics, NRS Petro, Petrotech, Split First ATM and PCS offer EMV at the pump at 1/3 of the cost compared to other solutions. There are 152,000 C-stores and 121,000 are gas stations with more than 1.5 million fueling points that need to be EMV enabled.
Another factor to consider is whether the solution is semi-integrated. Does it include the following?
- Semi-integrated solution that is PCI certified and encrypted from end to end
- Accept any form of payments including chip and pin and contactless
- EMV certification requirements encapsulated
- Internal reporting and archiving of data not impacted
- Direct to processor transaction path from payment device – allows payment processing options that are more difficult to achieve with full integrated systems
- Support other innovation and connect to in-store systems. Examples: electric car charging stations, carwash, vacuum, signage, loyalty programs, online ordering, fleet programs, gift cards, wallet apps and others
The C-Store/Gas Station industry has truly evolved from full-service stations where an individual would take payment and pump gas, the attendant would clean the windshield, and even check you oil and tire pressure if necessary. Today, we have C-Stores/Gas Stations that have self-service dispensaries/pumps that are open 24X7, accept payments and you can even watch the news while you pump gas. The industry has always aimed to deliver convenience and savings to their client, this requires new technology and upgrades. The mandate to enable EMV payments at the pump is one of the many new technologies that must be in place to protect the consumer from fraudulent activity and the gas station/C-store owners from chargebacks.
As you consider upgrading your station, think about what works best for your business. If cost and installation time is a concern, a third party retrofit like Sound Easy Pump™ might make the most sense. I recommend that you also consider all the benefits of upgrading and take the time to make a decision and move quickly so your station is not a target. I respect how hard station owners work and that they have built their own business. Don’t let the lack of EMV at your pump ruin what you are working so hard for.
About Andrew Russell
Andrew Russell is the President of Sound Payments, a key player in the payment integration and cloud services space. Andrew has held positions in the banking and financial sectors, the most current being the CEO of Mid-Atlantic Federal Credit Union. After 33 years, Andrew retired from military service and holds the rank of Major. Currently, he is in the process of publishing his new book “Visual Leadership: The Power of Transparency.”