Chase Pay is gunning to get to the top of its customers' digital wallets. Its strategy: Retailer partnerships and rewards to stake out its claim. Its latest partner, Shell, added support for Chase Pay Wednesday, allowing people to pay by scanning a QR code after unlocking the pump at more than 10,000 Shell gas stations across the U.S. Since most gas pumps haven't yet adopted NFC technology, it's an opportunity for Chase to build mindshare, said David True, a partner at PayGility Advisors. "As we go into the default payments world where payments are automatic -- think about a world where everybody pays with Android or Apple Pay fifteen years down the road -- Chase risks being bumped out of the spotlight," True said. Having merchants invite customers to use Chase Pay lets the bank control the payment experience, which is designed to let customers earn discounts through fuel rewards programs from Shell within Chase Pay, and build brand visibility at a time when non-bank mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Android pay become increasingly integrated with point-of-sale terminals. "For all of these 'pays', their adoption is probably lower than [banks] would like," said Zilvinas Bareisis, senior analyst at Celent. "By reducing the number of steps through which you pay, and by integrating with loyalty coupons, it's one way of demonstrating that's a good payment method." Shell said aligning with Chase Pay sets itself apart from competitors -- an example of how retailers can tap into Chase's vast customer base. "Our focus has been and continues to be on providing solutions designed to simplify the customer experience, integrate loyalty, and deliver a differentiated and personalized customer experience," said Dan Little, head of North America marketing for Shell Oil Products U.S. "With millions of households in the U.S. having a Chase Visa card, Shell mobile payment with Chase Pay is available to millions of customers nationwide." Current Chase Pay retail members -- like Walmart, Starbucks, Best Buy and ShopRite -- were originally part of the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) network, whose CurrentC digital wallet was phased out in 2016 after poor trial results. Chase acquired the MCX technology last year, which now supports Chase Pay. Retailers on the MCX network are some of the largest in the U.S., which should help drive Chase Pay activity. Chase offers its businesses fixed pricing without the usual fees for interchange, merchant processing or network processing, which would make Chase Pay more appealing to businesses than its rivals. That doesn't ensure consumer adoption though, which is where reward incentives come in. Chase has been ramping up its payments investments and partnerships over the last two years and is the only U.S. bank with scalable businesses in every major payments vertical, and in recent weeks has talked about "the payments opportunity as a continuum" that puts Chase "definitively in competition with everyone in the payments space."
Chase Pay's retail partnerships help deepen consumer relationships, a Chase spokeswoman said. Chase currently has 60 million card customers, 47 million of which are "digitally active." "It all starts with our customers and deepening relationships with those places they frequent the most," she said, "like the pump, grocery stores, and building and expanding on relationships with brands who are leaders in those categories."