OSLO, Norway—Circle K gas stations in Sweden are now using AI technology that reads license plate numbers of vehicles at pumps on the forecourt and automatically pays for the fill-ups via customers’ linked Circle K Easy Fuel mobile app for a frictionless pump-side payment experience.
Quebec, Canada-based Alimentation Couche-Tard, owner of Circle K, dubbed the technology “Pay by Plate” and said it plans to roll it out across the wider Circle K network in the coming years after a successful pilot in select Circle K stores in Norway.
The technology behind Pay by Plate aligns with established number plate recognition technology frequently deployed by toll roads and parking garages/carparks across Europe and is familiar to many European motorists.
“At Circle K, we know the forecourt of today is not the forecourt of tomorrow, and we are committed to evolving the forecourt experience for our customers through innovation,” said Deb Hall Lefevre, chief information officer, Circle K. “The need for change and a move toward a more frictionless forecourt experience is driven by the clear changes we see in consumer behavior. As market leaders, we feel it is our responsibility to continue pushing forward the development of the forecourt and convenience retail space and ensure we are adapting today to meet the future needs of our customers."
Couche-Tard is a global leader in convenience and fuel retail, operating in 26 countries and territories, with more than 14,200 stores, of which roughly 10,800 offer fuel.
Pay by Plate is part of Circle K’s drive to meet customer demands for “ease, speed, consistency and quality of service,” said Hans-Olav Høidahl, executive vice president operations Europe, Circle K. “The expansion of Pay by Plate will allow us to meet this demand, further simplify and enhance the customer experience as we differentiate our forecourt offering."
In Canada, Couche-Tard is researching and testing virtual reality and frictionless technologies for in-store shopping in a partnership with McGill University that includes a retail innovation lab at the Bensadoun School of Retail Management.
In the United States, license plate recognition technology has long been used by law enforcement agencies and toll road operators. Fast-food chains have tested camera-based systems to help speed drive-thru orders.
Listen to Brian Hannasch, president and CEO of Alimentation Couche-Tard, discuss his company’s plans for the future in our Lessons in Leadership learning series. In addition, hear Travis Sheetz, president and COO of Sheetz; Chris Gheysens, president and CEO of Wawa; and other leaders give exclusive interviews to NACS about the future of the convenience industry. Watch their Lessons in Leadership today.