Now that Google’s Waze app has embedded a payment option into its software, the integration of navigation apps and payments and loyalty at the pump is under way, experts tell Digital Transactions News.
Last week, Waze announced it has integrated an option that consumers can use to pay at the pump at ExxonMobil Corp. and Shell Oil Co. stations. When consumers using the Waze app drive into an ExxonMobil or Shell station, the app will display a prompt for mobile payment at the pump. After clicking on the prompt, consumers will automatically be linked to either ExxonMobil’s Exxon Mobil Rewards+ or the Shell Fuel Rewards loyalty app to initiate payment.
“Waze is following the trend of software companies integrating payments into their mobile applications as a way for merchants to add value to the user experience,” says Todd Ablowitz, co-chief executive and co-founder of Denver-based Infinicept Inc., a software provider for payment facilitators. “This trend has been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic as more consumers look for contactless payment options.”
In recent months, Waze has partnered with SpotHero and ParkWhiz in the United States to bring parking information to its app. That trend, payments experts say, suggests other software companies in the navigation space are likely to follow suit through partnerships and acquisitions or by building the technology from the ground up. Google paid more than $1 billion to acquire Waze in 2013.
“Most merchants realize mobile payments need to include loyalty to increase customer engagement and vice versa,” says Terry Mahoney, a partner with Chicago-based W. Capra Consulting Group, which has a petroleum practice. “The apps that take this holistic approach are the ones that will get more traction.”
Waze’s app, which can be downloaded to smart phones or tablet computers that support global positioning systems, or GPS, provides drivers directions to a destination as well as data on travel times, traffic congestion, construction along the route, and accidents that may delay arrival, along with other information.
To initiate pay-at-the-pump, Waze users can enter the pump number into the app or snap a photo of the pump’s QR code using their phone’s camera. ExxonMobil’s and Shell’s apps support all major credit and debit card brands, as well mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.
While partnering with Waze gives consumers enrolled in ExxonMobil’s and Shell’s loyalty programs another option to use mobile payments at the pump, it does not necessarily provide a path for reaching consumers using competing navigation or gas pricing apps.
“This is a brand loyalty play and ExxonMobil and Shell are sure to hit a plateau with the number of users, because they are focusing on customers in their loyalty program that use Waze,” says Sarah McCrary, chief executive of GasBuddy LLC, a Boston-based tech company that operates apps and Web sites that find real-time fuel prices at more than 140,000 gas stations in the United States, Canada, and Australia. “While any movement toward mobile pay at the pump is good, the real growth will come from attracting users not tied to a specific brand.”