Some would say “The world no longer runs on that little plastic card in your wallet; it’s the mobile device that you can’t leave home without today” Well, we are perhaps not there just yet, but the trend is clear.
Mobile payments and the growing demand for the service are transforming business in nearly all industries. While credit and debit cards are still among the most frequently used payment methods (cash still reigns, as this Mastercard study shows), mobile and other forms of payments are on the horizon.
It’s no wonder: They offer big consumer advantages – convenience, efficiency, rewards tracking. And companies benefit from their adoption as well, in part because of the data they return. For instance, in the fuel card industry, a fleet manager could leverage connected mobile devices (smartphones, Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth beacons) to collect rich data about vehicles and drivers, including their spending, fuel use, location information and driving behaviours. Whilst control of spending remains the highest priority we are beginning to see new trends emerging, such as vehicle insurance premium based on driving behaviour.
There has been so much innovation in the area of payments that it is not surprising that the closed-loop fuel card issuers have lagged behind. Remember that the fuel card is not a payment card so there are additional factors to be considered. But it is clear to most that new forms of payment mechanisms will apply to the fuel industry. There has been innovation. For example, some of the first applications of RFID-enabled payments were at the fuel pumps, and some of those same companies are looking to incorporate mobile payments at fuel stations today. But it has not been universally applied.
There are obvious ways fuel card users can benefit from mobile payments. An in-app payment service, for instance, can allow drivers to maintain their various card types, complete transactions, check their payment history and pay for services such as a car wash or parking lot reservation in advance, all from the device. The data could be reported in real-time to the fleet manager.
To handle this type of use, fuel card providers must consider the technology infrastructure that enables it. (I recommend future-proofing this setup to incorporate the next big thing in payments, whatever that might be. You know there will be one!) And security needs to be top of mind as well.
Mobile devices offer neat, new ways to handle security through the use of biometrics. Multiple identifying factors – such as face recognition, fingerprint, voice – can be combined with PIN and locational information to verify a user’s identity. It’s a much more thorough system than the traditional signature on the back of the credit card. And these are all native capabilities on our smart phones!
In this era of payments anywhere, anyhow, fuel card providers have an opportunity to offer customers an improved experience, enriched by valuable, data-based insights. To put a twist on a famous tagline – mobile is everywhere you want to be.
In this series of posts, I’m discussing transformations in the fuel card industry, drawing from my years of experience working with the industry and watching it change and shift. I’ll discuss the fundamental drivers and hopefully put to rest any fears that challenges are insurmountable. Far from it, 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.