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Cumberland Farms mobile payments app drives increased transactions, retention

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February 1, 2013

With encouraging results for its mobile payments application pilot,  Cumberland Farms is expanding the effort to include transactions funded by a user’s checking account.

The Cumberland Farms SmartPay app launched last spring enabling users to pay for gas using their smartphones and a PayPal account. In the months since, the gas station and convenience store chain reports that it has seen increasing transaction levels from users and up to an 86 percent retention rate.

“We have always envisioned SmartPay to be an umbrella program with multiple ways to pay, so our plan is to continually enhance the experience,” said Kate Ngo, senior manager of brand strategy at Cumberland Farms, Framingham, MA.

“Checking was simply the next natural step for us from an economic standpoint,” she said. “What many consumers don’t know is that when they pay with checking, it saves us money on interchange fees, allowing us to pass those savings to our customers.

“Although the discount can quickly add up for consumers, we know that at some point, it won’t be enough. Eventually, we want to use SmartPay to reward our loyal users with additional incentives, exclusive deals, and informative content.”

Savings tracker
The new SmartPay Check-Link payment program enables users to pay for gas and in-store purchase using their mobile phone or with the swipe of a card.

Users also automatically save 10 cents on every gallon of gas every time they fill up.

To enroll, customers can go to cumberlandfarms.com/smartpay and enter their name, address and checking account information. Then users can either download the mobile app or pick up a card at a Cumberland Farm location.

Once the checking account information is verified, mobile users can launch the SmartPay app, which will automatically locate the gas station where the user is. Users can turn on the pump from their phone.

Users still have the option of paying via PayPal.

The app also features a savings tracker so users can watch how much they are saving by paying with SmartPay.

Everyday benefits
To enhance the SmartPay program , Cumberland Farms has joined forces with the National Payment Card Association, which ensures secure, PIN-based debit transactions to a user’s checking account.

SmartPay Check-Link also works inside any Cumberland Farms store, enabling users to pay with their phone or SmartPay card to purchase items in the store.

The SmartPay app is available to download for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

A browser-based option is also available at cfsmartpay.com in your mobile browser.

“Fundamentally, the SmartPay pilot helped validate what we’re seeing as a dramatic shift in consumer lifestyles and attitudes, especially the idea of a mobile wallet,”  Ms. Ngo said.

“With the SmartPay pilot, we saw not only increased transactions over time, but also retention rates as high as 86 percent,” she said. “Knowing that consumers are embracing mobile payment, we also added a feature to make in-store purchases within the app.

Early results also show that users are finding ways to extend the app’s benefits into their everyday lives.

For example, because multiple users can be linked to a single payment account, with every transaction tracked and recorded, the app has become popular with small businesses as an automated expense management system.

Additionally, parents are finding it helpful to manage household expenses.

“You can actually activate a gas pump from your living room, which to a parent, is a cool way to fund a gas fill-up and fund only that – as opposed to just dishing out cash,” Ms. Ngo said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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