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Håkon Zia Skånhaug

Apr 24, 2018

Meet the expert: Håkon Zia Skånhaug

In a new series around Circle K's commitment to its business customers, we delve into the many benefits behind the company’s offering and how its people are truly thought leaders in the industry. We recently spoke with Circle K’s card and payment development expert about how the company is simplifying payment for its customers.

As a main pillar of its total transportation cost solution, Circle K is continuously seeking opportunities to provide results that help drive efficiency and save business customers time and money. This vision goes further than the price of fuel and is about all elements that ultimately affect its customers’ bottom line.

Sitting at the intersection of business and technology, Håkon Zia Skånhaug is Senior Director of Card and Payment Development at Circle K Europe. His responsibility involves the development and continued evolution of Circle K’s payment solutions around all the company’s purchasing points, including its business customers.

Surrounded by the challenges of an ever-changing technology landscape, it’s vital that the company’s payment options meet its customers’ needs and expectations.

Mobile payment solutions to set a standard

Research conducted in 2017 by Forrester has indicated that consumer mobile payments in Europe, including app purchases, will by 2021 have increased to the sum of $165 billion. Among its peers and its business customers, Circle K is considered a pioneer in innovation within the transportation industry. With that, Skånhaug and his team look for new ways to offer customers more value in its services, without complicating any part of the payment process – instead ensuring it’s as streamlined as possible.

“Mobile payment solutions have already been around for several years, and there has been made a great deal of innovation in this area. However, when looking at the transaction volumes in our markets, most of the mobile payment usage has been related to the peer-to-peer money transfer services, like MobilePay, Swish and Vipps to name a few. It is true that several mobile wallet solutions have been introduced, primarily aimed at consumers, but so far with limited effect on overall volumes. We believe this is about to change, and that an increasingly number of customers are not only ready, but also expect, mobile payment solutions to be offered at our stations ”says Skånhaug.

This has led to Skånhaug’s team taking the next step in mobile payment solutions for Circle K patrons, some of which they're planning to roll out for both its consumer and business customers later in 2018.

While the company already offers, convenient and secure payment solutions today, evolving that process is vital for Skånhaug that we not only focus on what’s hot or not in terms of technology and look and feel, but keep in mind the overall value proposition towards its business customers in an array of industries, from global trucking companies to small local traders making their rounds.

Innovation is the name of the game in payment

Plastic cards have been around for a long time now, and has for many of us become a well-established part of the buyers’ purchase routines. This creates a type of stickiness to existing solutions that raises the bar for innovation. The key then is to solve real customer’s pain points, bringing significant value to the users.

The case for mobile payment solutions for business customers is clear, as virtual fuel cards can be issued close to instantly to a driver’s phone, reducing waiting time from several days to seconds. “Virtual fuel cards and our mobile payment solution will create a step change in easy visits, easy administration and increased security for our customers. In time, this will become a must have for doing business in our markets”, says Skånhaug.

For consumers, benefits of mobile payment are also strong, but here established habits have a stronger influence. Of course, younger people expect to be able to do everything on their mobile phone, and together with tech savvy people are early adopters. But for the larger population, uptake is expected to be much steeper when mobile payment is combined with individualized loyalty solutions. In time this will change people’s behaviour enabling even more frictionless payment solutions than we see with mobile payment today.

On Circle K’s indoor payment terminals another trend supports the adoption of new payment solutions. As more and more customers get used to the ease of use and speed of contactless payments, by just tapping their payment card, the step from switching out your plastic card with your mobile phone is much less, as you are doing the same gesture. In this case, plastic cards are paving the way for mobile payments, says Skånhaug.

Development in share of contactless transactions at Circle K stations in Europe:
Contactless payments at Circle K

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