Revving the fleet payments engine 

Driving ’ future forward, Frank Martien discusses 3 key trends: specialist transformation, fleet card globalization and disruption.

Over the last several years, fleet payments have seen significant evolution with quickly expanding use of electronic payments, mobility management and other value-enhancing paradigms. And the journey has just begun. Driving fleet payments’ future forward are three key trends with significant industry implications: specialist transformation, fleet card globalization, and technology disruption.

Specialist transformation

Fleet payments have been an attractive market for specialists, particularly in the US where they have increasingly built scale and synergies with partnerships and acquisitions. The two largest providers have rapidly grown their businesses, and Accenture anticipates just three specialists – FleetCor, US Bank, and WEX – will generate US$ 3 billion or more in US purchase volume in 2017. While down from seven in 2012, these remaining providers’ portfolios have grown more sophisticated with enhanced functionality in serving fleet fuel, and increasingly non-fuel, spend needs.

Figure 1. US Fleet Card Provider Consolidation

Revving the fleet payments engine fintech

Source: Accenture market observations and market news

With high large fleet (greater than 100 vehicles) penetration, small-to-medium-sized fleets are attracting greater industry focus. Accenture estimates these fleets (fewer than 100 vehicles) make up roughly 90 percent of the incremental North American vehicle opportunity. While continuing to build revenue per vehicle with existing fleets, fleet card specialists could position themselves for near-term penetration of this segment and long-term value through the expanded base.

But the small-to-medium segment is different. Like other small-to-medium businesses, these fleets prefer competitive pricing and fees, fast implementations, DIY configurations, and interoperability with other vehicular technology investments which can provide that “Uber-like” experience to which small-to-medium fleets are so close. This new experience requisites a reexamination of provider business models across many different drivers to fit customer and internal needs while aligning with relevant shifts observed from global interactions.

Fleet card globalization

The recent price environment has left integrated oil companies in the US and globally looking for ways to streamline operations and release tied-up capital, particularly as they move towards major legacy technology decision points. Moreover, US and Canadian fleet card partnerships, in many cases, have proven beneficial to major oils and to their fleet customers, unlocking value for all involved. This could catalyze new waves of fleet card globalization.

Building on US and Canadian successes, FleetCor and WEX (the two largest global fleet card specialists) have penetrated similar markets (such as Australia and the United Kingdom), expanded value chain presences, and won major programmatic deals in Europe with Shell (FleetCor) and ExxonMobil (WEX).

Figure 2. Snapshot (Non-Exhaustive) of Fleet Card Transactions outside North America

Revving the fleet payments engine fintech

Source: Accenture market observations; FleetCor and WEX press releases

Considering global commercial vehicle fleets, fuel demand and revenue yields that frame the fleet payments universe, Accenture analysis suggests potential for at least US$ 7 billion in revenue outside the US and Canada, with global fleet card specialists having reached just a fraction (roughly one-tenth) of that opportunity.

The key architectures to maximize cross-border efficiency are moving closer to readiness, and if executed effectively, several new avenues of growth may result. As examples, FleetCor is progressing its second-generation Open Loop solution; WEX and others are enhancing fleet management technologies; and providers of all sizes are experimenting with more open approaches inspired by liquid consumer expectations. But globalization will require much more.

Overseas markets are each distinct, with complex economic dynamics and entrenched local and regional market participants. Current participants weave a complicated web for new entrants; and while new entrants, including global fleet specialists, have started to gain share, they have a long way to go to create conditions closer to those in the US market.

To drive timely global fleet payment transformation, providers of all sizes will need to focus, message and execute effectively to receive the trust of potential customers and partners in the value chain while protecting against being disrupted themselves.

Technology disruption

To keep pace with market expectations and remain competitive, providers are embracing disruptive technology. Digital and mobile are among many technologies helping companies better manage their fuel and vehicle-related expenses and have become increasingly popular in the past few years.

Figure 3. Mobile Technology Advances in Fleet Card Management

Revving the fleet payments engine fintech

Source: Accenture market observations

Mobile applications allowing fleet card drivers to find fuel locations have been around for several years; however, mobile functionality for fleet managers is relatively new. EFS (an affiliate of WEX) recently announced its CarrierControl Mobile app which allows fleet managers to load cash onto driver cards, view real-time card transaction details and activate/deactivate driver cards in real time. Others are investing in similar on-the-go fleet card management features, expecting that the vast capabilities available online (for example, setting daily transaction limits) will increasingly become available on a mobile phone.

Technological advancements beyond cards, such as telematics integration, are in progress and provide opportunity and threat to current providers. As technologies to integrate data from third-party systems (such as open APIs) progress into market, fleet card providers will have even more tools to offer end-user organizations.

In the US, innovative international players such as Radius are entering the market and start-ups are offering alternative forms of payments. New mileage reimbursement technologies, meanwhile, are being marketed as alternatives to traditional fuel cards. And new partners, such as hypermarkets and c-stores, while willing to partner with existing providers, expect a certain experience for their customers in line with the retail trends they experience globally today.

Mapping the journey

Providers across the value chain—payments specialists, fuel providers, and fleets—have the opportunity to embrace these trends in the context of their own prisms. To build future-oriented, agile business models that positively re-define value creation, each player must consider strategic and tactical actions:

  • Understand changing customers and partners’ journeys in and beyond fleet payments activities;
  • Anticipate global forces and complex business drivers to determine how best to deploy assets and optimize globally (not just locally); and
  • Move to create experiences and underlying architectures that drive value for external and internal networks, and consequently, each player’s own business now.

With ever-growing market sophistication, those who embrace the thematic trends impacting fleet payments can proactively chart their journey with knowledge of how to read signposts along the way. I invite you to reach out to me to find out more.

 

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