Fleet News

Fuel cards: Chip and PIN changes the face of fuel card payments

ELECTRONIC payment pads are springing up everywhere, removing the need for an old-fashioned signature. Supermarkets, off-licences and petrol forecourts are all becoming the latest sites to offer this new technology.

Paying for fuel has never been easier and with the advent of new chip and PIN technology, fraud statistics look set to be cut dramatically.

One fleet which recently switched to chip and PIN in a bid to increase its accessible network and improve fraud detection has already noticed the benefits. Pre-packed sandwich manufacturer Harry Masons delivers sandwiches to businesses around the UK.

The company delivers about 50,000 sandwiches daily with its 34-strong fleet, racking up a hefty fuel bill. Transport manager Vinod Amrania said: 'With 24 refrigerated Mercedes-Benz vans and 10 hire vans, we spend about £25,000 a month on fuel. With the company experiencing rapid growth, we need to keep a close eye on the effectiveness of our fuel supplier.'

Harry Masons uses Total's chip and PIN system to pay for fuel.

Amrania said: 'We were impressed with Total's proposition. It was competitive on price and added value with the additional services it offered. The network was more extensive and there were more anti-fraud tools and financial flexibility.'

Harry Masons has issued chip and PIN cards to all its drivers.

Amrania said: 'The PIN number means that only the drivers can use the cards. If they were to give the card to anyone else, Total's fraud reporting systems would let us know very quickly, and would provide us with all the evidence needed to prosecute.'

Figures from www.chipandpin.co.uk have shown that more than £424 million of fraud was committed with UK cards in 2002 and the site predicts that if chip and PIN is not introduced, UK losses will escalate to £800 million by 2005.

One revolutionary way to pay for fuel that would obliterate fraud is 'Pay by Touch', which uses finger scanning to pay for products.

This system is being launched in three retail outlets later this year and could soon be the new way for fleets to pay for fuel.

Customers pay for purchases using a finger scan. An image of the finger links the person to an electronic wallet which holds their financial and loyalty programme information.

To use the system, drivers would need to activate their finger, which takes about 60 seconds. The system uses a cross-section of the fingerprint to avoid privacy issues. Tom Fischer, a vice-president of Pay by Touch, explained: 'We do not store the full fingerprint because of privacy issues and because it would be a large piece of information. The fingerprint sensor takes a snapshot of the print and picks out key points which can be transmitted as data and are unable to be reversed back into the full fingerprint.'

The infrastructure used to capture the data is similar to the keypads used for chip and PIN cards. Each fuel station would need a PIN pad to use finger scanning.

In addition to paying for fuel, drivers will also be able to activate loyalty cards with all the information stored in the same place.

By scanning a finger, a garage would instantly recognise that the driver was a member of its loyalty scheme.

Storing all information on a single card could save fleets both money and time, according to Fischer.

He said: 'You can have multiple users registered to one card. Chip-based cards cost about £1 each, so losing and replacing them on a fleet can add up.'

A similar system has been running in North America for the past 18 months and GALP petrol stations in Portugal are currently running a pilot scheme involving finger scanning.

The fuel card industry is certainly keeping its finger on the latest technology.

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