Customers of Mobil Corp. will be able to buy gas with the wave of a key ring when they apply for Speedpass.
To make fill-ups more convenient, the oil company is employing the same payment technology that lets cars drive through toll booths without stopping.
Customers eligible for the Mobil Speedpass will receive a free key ring equipped with a radio frequency transponder that communicates with the pump.
"Mobil has been a leader in terms of technological innovation, like POS at the pump," said Benjamin Miller, chairman of Cardtech/Securtech, the Rockville, Md.-based conference company. "This is a way to push it to the next level."
The customer holds the key ring toward the pump, fills up, and drives away. The gadget on the ring activates the pump and transmits account information to it.
The sale is charged to a credit or debit card designated when the consumer applies for the high-tech device. But for security purposes, the card number is not relayed over the airwaves.
A pilot program, which began in Austin, Tex., in early 1996, is now being rolled out nationwide. The company expects to issue one million Speedpasses by yearend.
A spokeswoman said Mobil is offering the loyalty program to make life easier for customers. "If they appreciate the speed they'll come back to Mobil stations," she said.
The company would not divulge the cost of rolling out the program. The proprietary technology was developed by Texas Instruments and the Wayne division of Dresser Industries.