Finexio Accounts Payable Payments as a Service Tracker November 2023 Banner

Can Fleet Management Serve as Beacon for Platformization of Connected Economy?

Bit by bit the smokestack economy — and the subsets thereof — come online, go digital, find new ways to connect stakeholders.

And as counterintuitive as it might seem, fleet management, among the most smokestacky of the stacks, is inching toward becoming a beacon of connectivity, serving perhaps as a roadmap for other sectors.

Trucking, of course, remains a key way of getting goods hither and yon. Late last year, the American Trucking Association reported that tonnage will grow to 14.2 billion tons within the next decade, up from a bit more than 11 billion tons in 2023. 

At the same time, like so many other segments of the economy, in the business-to-business (B2B) arena, paper checks and invoices dominate, with the attendant frictions in place as people wait for payments, go to the banks, and have to wait for funds to settle.

And with the inefficiencies in place, the cash crunch can become real. In the “2023-2024 Growth Corporates Working Capital Index: Fleet and Mobility Edition,”  done in collaboration between Visa and PYMNTS Intelligence, we found that two-thirds of fleet and mobility Growth Corporates used working capital to cover seasonal liquidity shortfalls, invest in assets and upgrade legacy systems. Ninety-six percent of fleet and fuel companies expect to use a working capital solution in the next year.

Speeding Up Payments

As reported Monday (Feb. 5), AtoB CEO Vignan Velivela told Karen Webster that slow payments represent a “silent tax” on fleet management. Of the half million trucking companies operating in the United States, 80% are small businesses that contract out to larger firms (carriers and distributors). Less than 3% of those small operators have more than 20 vehicles on the road.

AtoB said Monday it is debuting the AtoB Mastercard, tied to an open network that allows truckers to track and pay for fuel, as well as set spending limits where applicable. The cardholders will be automatically enrolled in Mastercard Easy Savings to access discounts.

Elsewhere, as reported over the summer, BP’s BP In-Truck Connect was launched in the United Kingdom with Mercedes-Benz Trucks UK.   

The new BP In-Truck Connect is an app-based solution that allows drivers to refuel their trucks by confirming the fueling site through the app, unlocking the pump and refueling. The app logs the transaction and pays for the fuel.

And in an interview with Karen Webster,  Raj Ramanan, CEO of AxleHire, said that platforms can provide booking and tracking transparency and sorting activities, improving the last mile of commerce. The company’s platform operates across a national network of drivers and 21 warehouses that span 19 urban markets.   

There’s a warehouse app, a dispatch app and routing app that help gig-sourced drivers get time-sensitive deliveries to doorsteps and other final destinations.