FRAMINGHAM, Mass. -- Cumberland Farms has launched the SmartPay application, powered by PayPal, that automatically locates one of the chain's gas stations and then lets the customer turn on the pump and pay with PayPal while still in the driver's seat, said Anuj Nayar, director of communications for PayPal, on the PayPal Blog.
The customer still must exit the vehicle to actually dispense the fuel.
The pilot program has been launched at 50 stores across Massachusetts. Based on the success of the pilot, Cumberland Farms may roll it out to additional locations in the coming months.
The app is now available on iPhone and Android smartphones. But Cumberland Farms has also launched a mobile web site at www.cfsmartpay.com.
The app pre-authorizes a $100 charge on the customer's PayPal account, but then reverts to the correct amount after the gasoline purchase has concluded. It sends a receipt to the customer's email account.
In a separate report, the Boston Globe's Scott Kirsner evaluated the program and said, "It was the perfect lure for a tech-obsessed cheapskate like me: trying out a new app for mobile payment, and saving money at the same time. ... The SmartPay process was speedy, and in a few seconds the pump lit up and asked me to select a grade of gas. When I was done filling up, my phone showed the total I'd spent, along with the amount I'd saved. (PayPal is funding the five cent per gallon discount as a way to encourage consumers to use the app.)"
His assessment should certainly please Cumberland Farms: "I'm not someone who has been a regular purchaser of Cumberland Farms gas in the past, but the simplicity of using the new app--combined with that five-cents-per-gallon savings--has created a new incentive for me to pull over when I see a blue-and-green Cumby's sign."
Kirsner's biggest concern about using the app was a fear of the gasoline dispenser catching on fire and exploding, he said. Dave Banks, the chief information officer of Cumberland Farms, told him there were no known incidents of mobile phones sparking fires or explosions. And the company has had to get approvals from fire departments in each of the towns where it is deploying the SmartPay app, he said (click here to read his full report).
Framingham, Mass.-based Cumberland Farms operates a network of approximately 600 convenience stores and gas stations and a support system including petroleum and grocery distribution operations spanning 11 states across the Northeast and Florida. It is part of the Cumberland Gulf Group of Cos.