The Petro Industry: A New Opportunity for VARs

By: Bill Pittman, Senior Vice President Petro Solutions at Sound Payments

Historically POS systems have been complex with different hardware and software that all had to be installed and configured correctly to all work together. But things have been changing lately. Cloud computing, touch screens, Android computing, all in one POS units, etc. have been making the systems Plug & Play.

So, what is a VAR to do? Look for new opportunities that utilizes their existing skill set in a vertical market that is not under stress. The Petroleum vertical is one such opportunity that a traditional VAR should consider. Here is why – First of all, it is a vertical that has a mandate to move to EMV at the pump by October 2020 or they have the liability shift  just like what happened to retail a few years ago. Second, it is a huge market. It is estimated that 2 million fueling points exist with only 13 percent upgraded to support EVM as of January 2020. That means it is estimated that 1.75 million fueling points still need to be upgraded. Finally, the existing pump installers are overwhelmed and there are not enough of them to service all the stations. And most of them are focused on the big branded stations. This is means there are a lot of smaller unbranded stations that are unable to upgrade and at risk to miss the deadline.

Historically, the Petroleum vertical was very complex with lots of moving pieces and a certified pump installer was required to work on the pump. This is still the case if you go down the traditional pump company path and replace the pump with a new pump. However, this is a very expensive option, which requires permits, digging up concrete and taking the station down for weeks. Retrofit kits are an alternative option that simply replaces the card reader with a panel and the EMV reader. This option is simple but can still get complicated if the EMV reader requires full integration with the payment application on the forecourt controller.

For these reasons, our company created an EMV Easy Pump upgrade kit that only requires you to replace the panel with one EMV payment terminal. This device is a payment terminal that is semi-integrated so it talks directly to the payment processor and won’t need the forecourt for payments. All you need to do is install the panel with the payment terminals, plug in USB for power, connect the printer and configure Wi-Fi. The final component is called the bridge, which is the software the payment terminal talks to in order to turn the pumps on and off.

This isn’t very different from what VARs have been doing in POS for years and may even be easier. The average install takes 15 mins per fueling point and you only need to take one pump down at a time.

This a great opportunity for a VAR that is looking for a new lucrative vertical that can lead to a much larger opportunity down the road.

William (Bill) Pittman is Senior Vice President of Sales and Strategy at Sound Payments. Pittman has more than two decades of experience in payment integrations, both as an executive and a software entrepreneur.