By Keith Reid
Gas Pos is a new point-of-sale vendor for both convenience fuel retail and truck stop operators. Gas Pos, which has a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) format, promises to eliminate paying out-of-pocket for a fuel point-of-sale (POS) system, installation, maintenance, repair and replacement. Gas Pos is free upfront, including POS software and store and forecourt hardware, comes with a solid warranty, 24/7 help desk and free Gas Pos installation.
On the truck stop side, fleet card acceptance includes Comdata®, EFS, T-Chek and TCH. Gas Pos claims a boost of up to $300,000 in additional profits with its solution.
The company, though new to the space, has a tech history going back four generations and includes retail station owners among friends and family. Gas Pos has received a $1 million investment by the venture capital firm Merus Capital to execute on a national roll-out. It also has a partnership with cloud communications platform Twilio.
FMN interviewed Gas POS CEO Josh Smith for some details on the new offering.
FMN: Tell us a bit about the history behind Gas POS.
Smith: My family has been in technology for four generations, specifically financial technology. This goes back to when computers were run on wheels and punch cards and they were doing factoring and inventory and accounts receivable (AR) management for pharmacies. This was in the early sixties. My father then got into selling computers after serving in Vietnam. He went on from there to have a range of successful business ventures for the military and various industries—steel, coal, gaming—and in 2012 decided to look at the petroleum market. We had heard from friends and family about the changes happening with payment card industry (PCI) compliance and data security and then EMV. Gas Pos, Inc. was formed in 2016.
FMN: What caused you to believe a better solution was required?
Smith: A third of all interchange revenue across the country is from gas stations and truck stops. So, when we saw that people were having to upgrade equipment for end-of-life, we knew that this was a moment of change that made it possible to launch a new venture.
My grandparents on both sides owned grocery stores and gas stations, so this is very much a family affair. Our focus is on independent small business owners because they’re the most at risk and they’re the most disadvantaged in this process, particularly those operating unbranded gas stations. They don’t have a rebate from an oil company to help them offset this cost. They are the most likely not to upgrade, because every three to five years as an industry we come out with something new. And the new thing typically costs $10,000 to $25,000 each time. We want to give them a more affordable option.
FMN: Describe the system.
For the forecourt, we spent eight months designing and testing an EMV upgrade module called Switchly that will plug into existing gas pumps and connect with encrypted wireless back to an in-store communication station.
On the fleet side, we’re using our own systems to reach out to the networks and take authorizations on behalf of the retailers. The average truck stop is on a three- to seven-day float for their funds. We have a product coming out that will be able to give them funds the same day. We estimate an extra $50,000 a day in cashflow and with the increase in interest rates, that’s going to be ridiculously beneficial to the stops. And for a traditional bank card, we’re running those transactions directly in from the sites to the host—First Data or Worldpay or whoever.
FMN: What’s the store hardware like?
Smith: Today we use 15″, all-in-one, touch dynamic terminals. We have a partnership with the Equinox Payments and we’re going to bring their Lux series out to the market. You’ll start seeing them in many places like Macy’s and it’s a slick device. They take contactless EMV payment and near-field communication for Apple Pay and other mobile wallets. We also have a 12″ tablet option if someone needs a smaller footprint.
FMN: What about the site controller?
Smith: Allied NeXgen. Allied is amazing, and if it wasn’t for those guys, we wouldn’t be able to do this. What I like the best about NeXgen is that it gives us a “one to many” interface and the ability to mix and match dispensers. Maybe they want to keep an older unit from one brand on the diesel island but have another company’s product on the consumer island. NeXgen is just a great product.
FMN: How well does it support loyalty programs and ACH, etc.?
Smith: We embrace the Conexxus standards so we can support any of the third-party interfaces. I’m a huge fan of ACH payments and alternative payment. I have a financial tech background and Gas Pos is a fintech company. We think that alternative payments are going to be a huge opportunity for the industry.
FMN: What about back office integration?
Smith: We’re working on our back office integration and we have a few providers that are interested in working with us. A lot of our stores are independent, single-store operators that are just transitioning into scanning and into inventory management.
FMN: How well does the system handle the on-site reporting requirements with fleet cards?
Smith: We are a payment switch in that regard, where we’re sending the cards in for authorization and we’re providing that level-three data—a driver number, odometer, trailer number—things like that. On the over-the-road side, if it is a class 1-6 vehicle, the most common data is they want to know a driver ID and odometer number. We just provide the data that is requested by the networks.
FMN: What are the core value propositions?
Smith: First and foremost, the economics. Our system is delivered as a service. It doesn’t cost a dime to buy the equipment, and you install it as a completely frictionless process. We provide lifetime warranties on our equipment so that they don’t have to worry if it breaks. We charge $200 per month and that includes hardware, software support, lifetime warranty—the whole nine yards. We also help our customers improve their operations.
FMN: How so?
Smith: First, they can manage their fuel prices online. For some of our customers, it was taking days to update fuel prices across all their locations. But by using our cloud, they can go in and change the prices at every location real time, and it’s going to notify the store. With Twilio being one of our main partners, it’s very easy to send text messages, calls and alerts. So, if a store doesn’t change their price, for whatever reason, within a very short period it’s going to start texting and calling the home office and saying, “Store 27 hasn’t updated their prices.”
We’re also constantly monitoring the stores and looking for ways to help them improve their businesses. If it’s a margin question, and we notice that they’re out of alignment with some of the other stores, we let them know they are missing money here. Let’s help you come up with a way to make extra revenue.