Two years on from when it first started, AA Smartfuel's automated online payment system has delivered $100 million in fuel discounts for customers, says managing director Scott Pritchard.

The system allows customers to accumulate cents when making purchases at retail stores, which are then redeemed at Caltex and BP stations.

The idea for the discount fuel system came to Pritchard when he was running three Caltex service stations a few years ago. "I saw we were losing customers to supermarket dockets. I'd seen some discount programs but they were all clunky and manual," he says.

Pritchard met with Gerald Creamer, whose company, Face, built the payment systems. "I went to school with Gerald. I asked him how we could automate background online systems."

Creamer, who in the past had run payment and gateway systems, developed the AA Smartfuel system in PhP and MySQL.

"While he was building the system, I was trying to commercialise it. A year later we did a pilot in Palmerston North. Six months after that, I talked to the Automobile Association and we formed a joint venture," says Pritchard.

Face also runs all the servers. "We've had only 20 minutes downtime in the whole time it's been running," he says. "It runs live, 24 by 7."