Visa's partial authorization pre-paid approach got a huge boost on Thursday, with Shell Oil and its 6,000 gas stations (I wanted to say "service stations" but who are we kidding?) publicly committing to the service.
The partial payment tactic is designed for customers making a purchase that is larger than the dollars remaining on that card. Traditionally, such a payment is rejected, potentially losing the sale.
With Visa's partial approach and Shell, the gas pumps would be programmed to only dispense as much product as the customer has on the card. (They've automated the old Vaudeville sales joke. "How much is it?" "Depends. How much do you have in your wallet?") This doesn't work for all products, but it should work well with gasoline sales.