Forget Pay at the Pump, Shell customers will soon be able to buy petrol using an APP - but is it safe to use phones on forecourts?

  • Service launching this year is a collaboration between Shell and PayPal
  • Customers will be able to use the service through the Shell Motorist app or the PayPal app and will begin by selecting the pump they are using 
  • App authenticates the transaction and the customer can then fill up and go 
  • receipt is automatically sent though to the user's phone 
  • Service will be available at the majority of Shell’s 1,000 UK petrol stations

For years drivers have been told not to use their phones on petrol station forecourts. 

But from April, Shell customers will be encouraged to use these devices to pay for petrol when the firm rolls out a mobile payment scheme.

Customers at the majority of Shell’s 1,000 stations will be able to fill up their car before using an smartphone app to buy fuel without ever having to queue.

Later this year, customers at the majority of Shell’s petrol stations will be able to use their smartphone to pay for fuel without leaving their car (illustrated). The petrol giant has partnered with PayPal to produce the free service available on iPhone and Android handsets

Later this year, customers at the majority of Shell’s petrol stations will be able to use their smartphone to pay for fuel without leaving their car (illustrated). The petrol giant has partnered with PayPal to produce the free service available on iPhone and Android handsets

The petrol giant has partnered with PayPal to produce the free iPhone and Android service, and customers will be able to use the service through either the Shell Motorist App or the PayPal app.

After driving into the forecourt, the customer selects the corresponding pump on the app by scanning a QR code.

The app then authenticates the transaction and the customer can fill up and go. 

When refuelling is complete, a receipt is automatically sent to the phone, letting the consumer drive away, knowing the transaction was a success.

The technology was trialled in 2013 and members of the Shell Drivers’ Club will be able to try a pilot service in April, before the payment system is rolled out nationwide later this year. 

Customers will be able to use the service through either the Shell Motorist app or the PayPal app. Here, a women is shown using the app to choose the PayPal option and select the correct pump. The app then authenticates the transaction and the customer can then fill up and drive away

Customers will be able to use the service through either the Shell Motorist app or the PayPal app. Here, a women is shown using the app to choose the PayPal option and select the correct pump. The app then authenticates the transaction and the customer can then fill up and drive away

The technology was trialled in 2013 and members of the Shell Drivers’ Club will be able to try a pilot service in April, before the system is rolled out nationwide later this year. A stock image of a Shell garage is shown

The technology was trialled in 2013 and members of the Shell Drivers’ Club will be able to try a pilot service in April, before the system is rolled out nationwide later this year. A stock image of a Shell garage is shown

IS USING YOUR PHONE AT A PETROL STATION DANGEROUS? 

Shell's app is designed to be used inside a car ans not on the forecourt, to avoid safety issues.

Article 115 of the General Traffic Regulations prohibits 'keeping the engine, lights, as well as electrical systems such as the radio or devices that emit electromagnetic radiation turned on'.

But mobile phones are low-power radio-frequency transmitters (between 450 and 2700 MHz), with a peak power value that ranges between 0.1 and 2 watts, according to Telefonica.

Because these devices only use a tiny amount of energy, the company said it is unlikely it would trigger an explosion unless it had a defective battery.

BP, however, claims that if you drop a mobile phone, a spark can be produced when the batteries are knocked loose.

 This could be hazardous because of the flammable vapours produced by petrol products.

The United Kingdom Petroleum Industry Association (UKPI) added that mobile phones are dangerous at a petrol station as they can distract a driver.

'Mobile phones are not designed and certified for use in explosive atmospheres which exist temporarily around the pump and nozzle during refuelling as well as around the fill and vent pipes during petrol deliveries.

'Whilst the risk of incendive sparking from mobile phones is low, they are not intrinsically safe devices and should not be used in those hazardous areas that exist on a forecourt.' 

‘We’re committed to providing a fast, safe and secure service. 

'[Customers] will now have the flexibility and convenience of paying without having to leave their car,’ said Michael Hominick, retail marketing manager retail at Shell UK.

‘Those who want to go in store and pay or purchase other items will still be able to, with the benefit of reduced queues.’ 

There is some debate about whether mobile phones are dangerous when used at petrol stations.

Article 115 of the General Traffic Regulations prohibits 'keeping the engine, lights, as well as electrical systems such as the radio or devices that emit electromagnetic radiation turned on'. 

Some people argue that phones are too low-powered to trigger an explosion, but BP claims a spark could be produced if a phone is dropped and its battery knocked out.

However, Shell's app is designed to only be used inside cars to allay these safety fears.

Michael Hominick, ​Retail Marketing Manager at Shell UK told MailOnline: 'It is safe to use a mobile phone from within a parked, stationary vehicle on a forecourt, but while on forecourts, we want customers to remain attentive and aware without the distraction of looking at their mobile phones. 

'As a result, mobile payment is an in-vehicle experience only. 

'This has been approved by Shell’s Primary Authority Partner, the London Fire Brigade.'

PayPal isn't the only payment service to collaborate with a fuel giant.

Customers at Chevron stations will soon be able to choose to purchase fuel using Apple Pay.

The move was confirmed by Chevron in December when it tweeted: 'We are working alongside Apple to develop solutions to integrate with Apple Pay at the pump by early 2015.'

Chevron has so far supported Apple Pay in its convenience stores and under its Texaco brand since the launch of the mobile payment platform in October, but it's thought the new app will be designed for users of the iPhone 6, 6 Plus and Apple Watch.

Apple Pay works by holding the phone up to a card reader and pressing a finger on the TouchID button.

This confirms the person's identity, and the payment is made as if the user had presented and signed their card. All details are encrypted and the system stores payment information securely.

If an iPhone is lost, users can suspend all payments via the Find my iPhone service. 

PayPal isn't the only payment service to collaborate with a fuel giant. Customers at Chevron stations will soon be able to choose to purchase fuel using Apple Pay, shown here by Tim Cook at Apple's conference

PayPal isn't the only payment service to collaborate with a fuel giant. Customers at Chevron stations will soon be able to choose to purchase fuel using Apple Pay, shown here by Tim Cook at Apple's conference

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