Un­der the Hood of Exxon’s Speed­pass+

Exxon­mo­bil’s con­tact­less pay­ment sys­tem was in­tro­duced 20 years ago. Its new­est it­er­a­tion gives more hore­spower to loy­alty and re­wards.

ISO & Agent - - INSIDE 09/10.2017 - BY NATHAN DICAMILLO

Twenty years ago, Exxon­mo­bil launched its con­tact­less Speed­pass pay­ment sys­tem. To­day, the lat­est it­er­a­tion packs in new tech­nol­ogy and the Plenti multi-mer­chant loy­alty pro­gram.

Exxon­mo­bil’s con­tact­less and mo­bile pay­ment sys­tem, Speed­pass, is well known as a way to help driv­ers ac­cel­er­ate the pay­ment process af­ter they fill up on gas. The sys­tem’s lat­est up­dates fo­cus less on the pay­ment process and more on flex­i­bil­ity and re­wards.

Speed­pass dates back to 1997, when it op­er­ated as a wire­less key­fob that mo­torists used to pay for fuel. The lat­est ver­sion, called Speed­pass+, is an app­based pay­ment sys­tem that de­buted in March of last year and now works at 90% of Exxon­mo­bil’s more than 11,000 sta­tions na­tion­wide.

Exxon­mo­bil also par­tic­i­pates in the multi-mer­chant Plenti loy­alty pro­gram, but bring­ing Plenti re­wards to its full net­work of gas sta­tions was a com­pli­cated process.

“Exxon and Mo­bil sta­tions are sup­plied by au­tho­rized in­de­pen­dent branded whole­salers who ei­ther op­er­ate the sta­tions di­rectly or have a con­trac­tual re­la­tion­ship with an in­de­pen­dent owner,” said Aaron Stryk, a spokesper­son for the com­pany. When the com­pany wants to make a change, it has to ne­go­ti­ate that change with ev­ery whole­saler.

De­spite this com­plex­ity, Plenti is integrated into over 90% of Exxon­mo­bil’s U.S. net­work, ac­cord­ing to Stryk. On May 15, the com­pany launched a pro­mo­tion that of­fers 2,000 Plenti points—worth $20—for three pur­chases of at least 10 gal­lons of gas.

Plenti, which is man­aged by Amer­i­can Ex­press, in­cludes many mem­bers such as AT&T, Macy’s and Rite Aid; it added its first gro­cer, South­east­ern Gro­cers LLC, in March. Plenti does not al­low two di­rect com­peti­tors to par­tic­i­pate in its pro­gram, so Exxon­mo­bil will be the only gas sta­tion brand in its foot­print.

Tech­nol­ogy has helped bring Exxon­Mo­bil’s gas sta­tion op­er­a­tors on board with both Speed­pass+ and Plenti, said Bryant Rus­sell, Exxon­mo­bil’s U.S. pro­gram man­ager for mo­bile pay­ment and loy­alty.

The Speed­pass+ ap­pli­ca­tion, which is integrated with Plenti, in­ter­acts with gas sta­tion equip­ment via ge­olo­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy that rec­og­nizes Speed­pass+ users. “There’s no change from a hard­ware point of view,” Rus­sell said.

Exxon­mo­bil also sup­ports other high-tech pay­ment op­tions such as the Ap­ple Watch or a Ford ve­hi­cle with SYNC 3 tech­nol­ogy. “It’s in­cum­bent on us to in­no­vate and stay in touch,” Rus­sell said.

The Speed­pass+ ap­pli­ca­tion is de­signed to min­i­mize any changes in be­hav­ior on the part of the cus­tomer while still im­prov­ing the over­all pay­ment process, notes Thad Peter­son, se­nior an­a­lyst at Aite Group.

“It’s re­mov­ing fric­tion,” Peter­son says. “It’s much eas­ier than us­ing your credit card.”

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