Eliminating Cash From Fast-Food Transactions



Even as ExxonMobil Corp.'s SpeedPass transponder begins expanding from its base at Mobil gas stations to the Exxon side of the house, the SpeedPass network folks are looking at new expansion for the easy-pay service.

Specifically, says Joe Giordano, VP business and product development for ExxonMobil's SpeedPass Network division, the company is examining uses at fast-food joints, grocery and convenience stores, coffeehouses, and vending machines.

Already being tested at nine McDonald's restaurants in Chicago, SpeedPass later this year will add new features designed to appeal to a wider audience: a loyalty program that incorporates both fast-food and gas purchases and an improved customer-preference database. That would enable the system to remember a person's favorite meal, for example, so they could just wave the transponder in a fast-food restaurant and get "the usual."

Giordano expects his customer base to rise from 5 million to 30 million during the next five years. Ready to ramp up quickly is the Hughes Network Systems' satellite system over which data flows. The system in October is expected to add a debit option to the standard credit approach--a pent-up customer demand, Giordano says. ExxonMobil is working to link its service to the electronic ACH settlement network to make this happen.

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