In a lot of ways, fuel cards work just like any other payment card. The difference is that they are used to buy fuel at filling stations on a particular network – in the case of ESSO CARD™, at a preferential price per liter.
“Buying fuel by card provides our clients with greater control over their cash flow compared to paying by cash or credit card,” says Peter Dore, Commercial and Marketing Director. “What is more, fleet operators are able to reduce the administration burden associated with running a fleet through single, consolidated invoicing and spend their time on more productive tasks such as business development.”
WEX Europe Services Limited started trading in 2014, yet its origins date back to the foundation of WEX Inc. in the USA in 1984 and Radius Payment Solutions in the UK in 1990.
“We are a joint venture 75% owned by WEX Inc. and 25% owned by Radius Payment Solutions,” explains Mr. Dore. “Without a local footprint, it would have been difficult for WEX Inc. to come into Europe when it wanted to acquire a local customer base as the owner of the ESSO CARD™ portfolio. Now that we understand local customer and market requirements, we expect considerable growth across Europe.”
The company’s fuel cards provide access to a wide network of fuelling stations across the continent, many of them strategically located along major motorways with key border crossings and transport routes. Drivers who are linked to the ESSO CARD™ network do not need to worry about carrying foreign currency or working out exchange rates.
Fleet operators receive monthly consolidated invoices and are able to pay in their agreed currency instead. While the focus is on increasing fuel sales via the ESSO network, WEX Europe Service offers some complementary fuel cards in the UK and other European countries.
“WEX operates other cards across Europe, most of which are operated by Radius Payment Solutions, one of the parent companies, but also other suppliers such as Novofleet in Germany and soon Leclerc in France,” says Mr. Dore. “We have partners in Poland, Turkey and the Czech Republic, however, who win customers in their own countries and use the ESSO CARD™.”
Accurately monitoring fuel use and expenditure is the first step towards securing savings, as reductions in fuel consumption will considerably reduce a fleet’s total operating expenses. Services linked to fuel card accounts facilitate fleet operation and deliver added value to fleet operators.
“We differentiate ourselves with fuelling solutions for an overall management of the fleet,” comments Mr. Dore. “We strive to give our customers a discount on the purchase of fuel and related products such as oil and lubricants, combined with solutions for administration and the reduction of fleet management costs.”
Payment in case of a breakdown for any kind of work or towing services, carbon off-setting solutions in the framework of environmental schemes and toll machine programs are examples of value-added solutions. The latest solution offered by WEX Europe Services is WEX Telematics, introduced earlier this year.
“Sales in the UK, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium have just started,” confirms Mr. Dore. “It is another differentiator, as only a few competitors link fuel with telematic devices designed to improve fuel efficiency and consumption control.”
Another initiative that will be introduced later this year is a carbon offsetting programme called Eco Miles. As the owner of the ESSO CARD™ fuel card portfolio in Europe, WEX Europe Services prolongs the existing relationship in the US and the rest of the world without focusing on single market segments.
“WEX Europe Services has a portfolio of around 90,000 fleet customers holding 1.4 million fuel cards, collectively buying over two billion liters of fuel annually,” says Mr. Dore. “We target all segments and businesses of all sizes, so we need to have the right proposition for each country and segment from sole traders to large fleets and HGV operators.”
This may also entail fuel card options as a complementary factor. “We want to grow and will look for other cards and solutions to enhance our own propositions,” explains the Commercial and Marketing Director. “They will be chosen on the basis of their ability to complement our existing portfolio. However, ESSO remains our prime partner in business development.”
While business used to concentrate on forwarding companies and fleets of trucks, WEX Europe Services is increasingly addressing the fleet sector with cars now, for example courier companies or businesses with their own fleet of company cars.
In marketing, WEX Europe Services emphasizes its European dimension. The company’s multichannel activities cover its eight markets in Europe, and its propositions are tailored to each country and each segment. “Fuel cards make it much easier to manage the costs of running a fleet across several European countries,” sums up Mr. Dore. “Even reclaiming VAT owed on fuel spending is easy, as all our invoices are prepared in accordance with the sixth EU VAT Directive. Looking ahead we consider Europe a vast area of growth.”