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C-stores Should Offer Mobile Payment & Here’s Why

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Should convenience stores offer mobile payment options to their customers?

According to Jenny Bullard, chief information officer at The Jones Co. Inc., operator of Flash Foods convenience stores in Georgia and Florida, the answer is definitely “yes.”

During “The Future of Payments: A Panel Discussion,” which took place at this week's 2015 Conexxus Annual Conference, Bullard shared that Flash Foods’ GoBlue mobile app has been a huge success, with mobile payment being the app's most-used feature.

The biggest reason to offer mobile payment is the use of automated clearing house (ACH) payments, which remit interchange fees that are much lower than other options, Bullard said.

Flash Foods' GoBlue app offers 5 cents off per gallon of gas at all times, and occasionally offers 10 cents off per gallon during special promotional periods.

Despite giving a thumb’s-up to mobile payments, though, Bullard did point out that Flash Foods has shied away from other mobile payment platforms for various reasons. For instance, the chain has not implemented Apple Pay because its mobile payment system does not lower interchange fees and also does not provide the customer data she is seeking.

Flash Foods also decided not to join Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) and its CurrentC mobile app, in part due to the high costs to join the consortium.

Also touting the benefits of ACH during the educational session was Gray Taylor, executive director of Conexxus (formerly known as PCATS). “ACH is taking off. It works. There is no doubt about it,” he said.

The Future of Payments

Shifting to talk of the future, Taylor believes the payments landscape will change dramatically, with cash usage declining significantly. About 30 percent of retail transactions currently involve cash, but that figure is expected to drop to 25 percent by 2018, he cited.

Even further out in the future, the head of Conexxus predicted that the day will come when cash will become extinct in its current form.

“It will take decades. It will not be tomorrow or even in a few years,” said Taylor. “But the day will come of no ATMs.”

The Conexxus Annual Conference concludes Thursday at the Loews Annapolis Hotel.

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