Drivers buying gas at 7-Eleven can now ask Apple’s Siri voice assistant to arrange payment without having to touch anything. The voice-based payment with Siri, the first of its kind, is part of 7-Eleven’s new Fuel Loyalty program, designed to make payment faster and easier. Though not explicitly cited by 7-Eleven as a reason, the fact that using Siri removes a potential risk of COVID-19 infection was likely at least one benefit considered when starting the new program.
7-Eleven’s Fuel Loyalty program acts as an extension of the existing 7Rewards loyalty program and the payment system combines Siri’s Shortcuts feature with software designed by 7-Eleven. Users have to verify their phone number and attach either Google or Apple Pay or a credit or debit card to the account in the company’s mobile app before they can join. The app then suggests the user create a shortcut through Siri, setting up a custom voice command like, “Siri, fuel now.” The shortcut will prompt the voice assistant to ask what pump number the driver is using and how much gas they want, either a full tank or a specific amount, and the driver confirms the payment.
7-Eleven plans to encourage people to sign up with a discount of 11 cents per gallon the first seven times they fill up, and a three cents per gallon discount after that. The Fuel Loyalty program is still in its pilot phase, available only at 7-Elevens in North Texas, Woodbridge, Virginia, and both North and South Orlando, Florida, but presumably will expand once any bugs are resolved.
“Adding fuel savings takes the 7Rewards loyalty program to the next level,” 7-Eleven chief digital officer Tarang Sethia said in a statement. “Fuel loyalty offers value with an elevated experience that allows customers to pump, pay and be on their way all without taking out their wallet! A contactless payment experience and fuel discounts… that’s how we give customers power in the driver’s seat.”
Voice Fuel Shortcut
7-Eleven’s new program arrives just a few months after Amazon and ExxonMobil announced at CES that people with Amazon’s Alexa in their car will eventually be able to use the voice assistant to buy gas at more than 11,500 Exxon and Mobil gas stations in the U.S. In this case, drivers don’t need to be part of a specific program. Anyone signed up with Amazon Pay driving Alexa-enabled car or one with an Echo Auto that can integrate the voice assistant into a car can pull up to the pump and ask Alexa to pay for gas. Amazon’s plan began before the current COVID-19 health crisis, but health concerns are likely going to accelerate the timetable for more touch-free payment options, including purchases that can’t be done remotely like buying gas for cars.
The different angle 7-Eleven is taking with its voice payment system compared to Amazon reflects the fact that Apple isn’t actively participating. That said, 7-Eleven is taking full advantage of the updates to Siri Shortcuts that Apple debuted at last year’s WWDC. Most notably, the upgraded shortcuts design include the Parameters feature, which is what triggers Siri to ask any follow-up questions like pump number and fuel amount desired when a shortcut starts, as opposed to needing to fill in extra inputs by typing The updates also simplify setting up the shortcut by offering suggested phrases instead of requiring the user manually recording the command.