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A Little Relief from High Gas Prices on the Horizon
Though it’s not because gas prices are necessarily going down. It’s because gas stations in Texas (with a nation-wide expansion in the works) are providing up to ten cents off per gallon with a special program. The program comes from a two year old, eight person company called National Payment Card (NPC). And all you have to do is pay for your gas by swiping your driver’s license through the credit card slot on the gas pump.
Well, first you have to enter your driver’s license number and bank account information on the NPC website. When your driver’s license is swiped, an automatic withdrawn is taken from your bank account through an e-check with the Automated Clearing House, which is typically used for direct deposits.
Many are skeptical of the idea of giving out such personal information. In fact, the Texas Department of Public Safety does not endorse NPC or any other program that uses your state issued driver’s license. But what those who have their doubts don’t seem to acknowledge is the fact that programs like PayPal (which I know, through experience, to be entirely secure) require more personal information from you than the NPC program.
There is no personal banking information attached to your driver’s license. And, if you ever make purchases on the internet, you give out bank account or credit card information all the time. Plus, the NPC has strong security measures in place. The purchase cannot be made without entering a pin number, and, after three failed attempts, withdrawals are no longer permitted. Additionally, there is a monthly withdrawal limit of $300 in place. And, if you ever are a victim of identity theft, you would only be responsible for the first $50 withdrawn.
The NPC program stretched to five regional convenience store chains in June and they plan to have the system in place in more than 36,000 locations by 2010. Right now only 24 states have the magnetic strip on driver’s licenses that is required for the program, but NPC can add their e-payment system to any gas stations existing loyalty card.
And the benefits don’t stop at a discount on gas for consumers. With a typical reward or loyalty card, that goes through the major credit card companies, gas stations pay an average of 86 cents for every $36 gas purchase. NPC, however, charges a flat 15 cent fee for each transaction. And that’s how the gas stations can provide customers with a hefty discount (10 cents per gallon) that is much better than the discount of the loyalty cards (an average of three cents per gallon).
• BusinessWeek.com: Use Your Driver’s License as a Debit Card
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