The fuel card business, like most facets of the energy industry, is changing.
Despite the dramatic fall in fuel prices and continuous improvement in vehicle efficiencies, fuel remains the significant cost for many organisations. For fleets, freight forwarders, leasing companies and small businesses, the fuel card remains a valuable tool to easily manage and control vehicle expenses. In fact, the number of fuel cards sold in Europe is projected to rise, year on year to 2019, resulting in a market 113.6 billion-Euros strong.
Though demand is healthy and growing, the industry faces some definite challenges:
- Increased competition from new market entrants that are using partnering models to operate their business;
- Changing legal frameworks for regulation and compliance, particularly in the European Union. These regulations are forcing fuel card issuers to redefine their basic business model;
- Growing consumer expectations in today’s mobile and “full choice” market;
- New technologies, such as mobile payment, that are disrupting old ways to doing business;
- Budgetary concerns due to oil price volatility and other factors
These challenges put great pressure on current fuel card providers to adapt to a changing marketplace –in ways that are both unique to the industry and similar to the digital disruption facing nearly every business today.
It could be seen as a scary time for traditional fuel card players – but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, I think today’s disruption has the potential to lead companies to innovative, next-gen approaches that set them up for success today and long into the future.
How? Well, from my view, not surprisingly, it starts with taking a customer-centric view and then applying the right technology. It’s time to think about and modernize the IT approach to better match the business needs with a long-term vision for the future. From there, it’s about bringing that vision to life with the right partners and tools. Many organisations are sitting on or being constrained by processes and technologies that were developed for the pre-digital era – where it was all about the card. But that’s changing.
In a series of posts, I’ll be discussing this transformation, drawing from my years of experience working with the fuel card industry and watching it change and shift. I’ll discuss the fundamental drivers and hopefully put to rest any fears that these challenges are insurmountable. They’re not – far from it – and they’re driving innovations that will open companies to a bright future.
Join me in the discussion here or connect with me on LinkedIn. I look forward to engaging with you.
Neil Brownlie has been at CSC since 2005 when he joined the company to head up sales for Cards and Payments in Asia, Middle East and Africa. He worked to introduce mobile payment solutions across the region, then in 2012, moved to Austria to lead the Fuel Card group and International sales. In 2014, he was appointed General Manager for Bulgaria. Outside of the office, he enjoys an active outdoor lifestyle, attending concerts and indulging in the good life – and wine – of Austria.