What do medical bills have to do with fleet card provider WEX, except that it would take a lot of trucks to transport them all?
In fact, health care has similar “complexities and inefficiencies” to fleet management, the industry WEX helped pioneer more than 30 years ago, according to Steve Crowley, the company’s chief information officer.
Those two characteristics are the company’s key drivers in determining which industries to approach with a payment solution, he said. And WEX has worked with several, ranging from travel and insurance to education.
Its CEO, Melissa D. Smith, recently won the Woman Driving Innovation in Payments award at the 2014 Innovation Project in Cambridge, Mass., the first of its kind to be given at the ceremony. The award honors the top female leader in the fields of payments and commerce innovation.
The cornerstone to the company’s leadership has been its closed-loop proprietary fuel and vehicle maintenance networks, one of the largest in North America. Its fleet cards are accepted at more than 90 percent of the nation's retail fuel locations.
The system’s software also enables fleet managers to control purchases in the field and gives them data-and-analysis tools to run their operations and control costs.
“We leveraged big data” to allow closer management in an industry that had traditionally been operated largely on trust, with trucks on the road and out of sight of managers. Crowley said.
The company’s fleet cards collect information on purchases and driving time, helping management “rapidly get to issues or problems where drivers were out of compliance with policies,” he said.
The system, which moves information from paper to the cloud, also has reduced costs and saved drivers from having to juggle “multiple cards and receipts,” Crowley said.
“All that friction goes away with the card,” he said.
Health care happens to be another industry dominated by paper, Crowley said. You get a bunch of bills in the mail, often about the same procedure.
“There are great inefficiencies in getting to price – what you owe, versus what the provider owes,” he said. “There is dyslexia among providers.”
WEX is introducing an electronic or virtual payments solution aimed at simplifying invoicing for the industry while providing reconciliation and enhanced remittance data.
The company also has begun to eliminate even the friction associated with using a card.
WEX recently announced a relaunch of its mobile application, formerly known as Octane, under the name WEX Connect. The service now allows users to find stations in their area based on brand, distance and service type (oil changes, tires, transmissions, etc.). That’s over and above allowing them to locate fueling stations and prices, as they have always been able to do.
Besides this expanded service, the company is evaluating other uses for contactless cards and mobile, Crowley said. “We’re leveraging best practices from Europe, for example,” he said. “We’re moving toward the mobile wallet.”
WEX has been diversifying its business through a combination of organic growth and acquisitions to minimize fuel price sensitivity, the company said.
In 2000, it pioneered a single-use virtual payment solution to address the complexity of reconciling payments in the online travel industry, which has been a key contributor to growth.
The company also has a presence in Australia, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK.