Sheetz Tests Innovative Payment Method

Sheetz convenience stores and Wright Express Corporation this month are launching the first multi-city trial of an exciting new technology that lets drivers make fuel purchases at Sheetz by using their mobile phones.

Drivers will be able to download a fleet card over-the-air into specially enabled Near Field Communication (NFC) mobile phones. They can then purchase fuel by tapping their phones at the contactless payment readers installed in more than 350 participating Sheetz locations throughout Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina.

The pilot begins this month. Sheetz and Wright Express, who are both new to the program, are collaborating with ViVOtech to test the new technology so they can gauge its benefits and the impact on the fleet-fueling industry.

Drivers participating in the pilot are part of Sheetz Business Advantage fleet program.

“There are indications that the wireless phone will be the electronic wallet of the future,” said Russ Lamer, Wright Express’ manager of emerging technologies. “The goal of this field test is to enable us to better understand NFC mobile payment technology and position Wright Express to rapidly achieve leadership in this exciting new market as it develops.”

Lamer said the main reason Sheetz was selected to pilot the new program is because the chain is considered a leader in c-store technology.

“Sheetz has had the contactless readers at their stores for several years now and have been accepting contactless chip cards, using RFID technology for payments at the pump and in-store,” Lamer said. “ViVOtech was an obvious choice as the primary technology partner, since they are the leader in NFC mobile payment software and contactless acceptance solutions.”

ViVOtech, which displayed at a booth during the NACSTech show last year, is providing the complete end-to-end NFC mobile solution for the trial. This includes a mobile wallet, Over-The-Air (OTA) fleet-card software, promotion management software, and contactless/NFC terminals installed at Sheetz locations.

NFC is compatible with the ISO 14443 Contactless Standards being used in tens of millions of contactless credit and debit cards that have been issued under major brand names. There are already close to 500,000 contactless terminals in the U.S.

It’s expected that about 470 million mobile phones will include NFC by 2011, according to Juniper Research.

Wright Express is a provider of payment-processing and information-management services. The company’s charge cards are used by commercial and government fleets to purchase fuel and maintenance services for approximately 4.5 million vehicles.

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