Originally posted on Digital Transactions – Sound Payments Inc., a multichannel technology provider that offers point-of-sale solutions for the petroleum industry, expects its partnership with National Retail Solutions, a subsidiary of IDT Corp., to accelerate adoption of EMV at in-pump card readers among independent gas stations and convenience stores.
Sounds Payments argues its EMV in-pump card readers appeal to station owners because they can be retrofitted to existing pumps, which significantly reduces the cost of installation. The company’s Sound Easy Pump reader costs less than $1,000 per fueling point, or one-third of the cost of competing retrofit kits, says Bill Pittman, senior vice president for the petro channel at Jacksonville, Fla.-based Sound Payments.
Bringing a fuel pump, which typically has four nozzles, into EMV compliance costs about $25,000 to $30,000 on average, fuel-industry experts say. The price can rise to $40,000 with the addition of loyalty, fleet card, and third-party marketing/discount programs. In comparison, a fuel pump replacement with a bare-bones EMV card reader is about $20,000.
“We are looking to disrupt the space by making it more affordable to bring a gas pump into EMV compliance,” Pittman says. “One of the advantages of our solution is that gas stations don’t have to rip out and replace existing pumps, and our card readers can be installed one pump at a time, which means the station does not have to completely shut down for installation.”
About 100 independent gas stations/convenience stores have installed Sound Payments’ card reader.
NRS, a POS platform provider aggressively moving into the petroleum market after developing its platform for independent convenience, liquor, and tobacco stores, has more than 300 independent convenience store clients with gas pumps. NRS’s platform, however, does not support pay-at-the-pump. Overall, Newark, N.J.-based NRS has more than 11,000 systems installed throughout the United States and is adding more than 1,200 new clients quarterly, says president and chief executive Elie Katz.
Rather than connect the in-pump card reader to the gas station’s forecourt controller, which integrates the card reader to the station’s POS system, Sound Payments links its card reader directly to the card processor via a Wi-Fi network. Sound Payments’ card reader is certified with processors First Data Corp. and Heartland Payment Systems.
Sound Payments’ card reader can also share data with NRS’s platform on the back end, making it possible for station owners to run reports from a single system. In addition, card data is encrypted at the pump. Typically, card data passing through an in-pump card reader is encrypted as it enters the forecourt controller, which could open a door for the data stream to be intercepted by criminals.
Sound Payments says its card reader supports Quick Response (QR) code scanning, PIN-on-glass, magnetic stripe readers, EMV chip and PIN, NFC for Apple Pay and Google Pay, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi, and includes a built-in security camera.
With the deadline for EMV compliance at the pump now set for April 2021, the race is on for gas stations to meet the deadline. Between 80% and 90% of all U.S. stations remain out of compliance , says Pittman, who adds that some major petroleum brands are looking at Sound Payments’ solution.
The biggest stumbling block to stations becoming EMV-compliant is cost, an issue that has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, Katz says. “Merchants now are prioritizing how they are going to spend money on their business, and in some cases they may not see EMV compliance as a priority,” says Katz. “Plus, there are always those that are going to drag their feet and wait to the last minute. What we’re looking to do is give those stations that want to become compliant an affordable option to get ahead of the curve.”
One drawback for station owners waiting until the 11th hour, Pittman says, is there may not be enough technicians available to meet the demand for installation.