A convenience card with checks and controls
Altech Netstar has launched its on-road fleet expenditure solution designed to simplify transporters’ daily financial requirements. Introducing the Vigil Fleet Card
Cards are not a new phenomenon in transport … they have been around for a long time and most banks offer a basic fuel card, which can be used for other simple expenses, such as fuel and tolls. However, traditional fuel cards have limitations and cannot be used for incidental on-road expenses. Many also have limited cross-border use due to forex requirements. Controlling expenditure and preventing abuse of fuel cards can be problematic and difficult to manage.
“Managing on-road expenses therefore becomes quite a challenge,” says Lawrence Wordon, executive sales and marketing at Altech Netstar.
“Besides fuel and toll expenses, long-distance transport operators have to provide for meal expenses and daily allowances for drivers and crews, as well as truck port charges. It is even more difficult to control unforeseen expenses; for example, if a driver is delayed and needs to spend an extra night on the road.
“Unforeseen maintenance breakdowns, such as punctures or tyre repairs, add to the financial stresses that accompany a typical transport operation. Budgeting for these expenses is a challenge and operators are often left with no option but to issue a cash float to the drivers to pay for unforeseen expenses,” says Wordon.
The days of onerous and admin-intensive money management are numbered, however, thanks to Altech Netstar and its Vigil Fleet Card.
“While fuel remains one of the main on-road expenditures, the Vigil Fleet Card can be used for far more than fuel,” Wordon explains. “It is a very secure, on-road payment solution.”
Developed in partnership with systems integration company, DMG, and in collaboration with Mercantile bank, the Vigil Fleet Card is a Mastercard mag-strip, prepaid card that can be integrated with the transport operator’s internal finance operation. Altech Netstar facilitates the entire application and administration process.
Wordon explains: “The customer is established as the custodian of a master trust account, from which funds can be transferred onto driver cards that are linked to the master account via an online portal. Each driver card can be loaded with an amount selected by the customer. Funds can be moved onto and off the card from the trust account via the easy-to-use online portal.
“Each driver card has a unique driver identification PIN number. Once funds are allocated to the card, the drivers are able to utilise it to pay for on-road expenses via the Mastercard-accredited card payment network. PIN access, together with on-off technology, is required to authorise payment via the card. The cards can also be authorised to draw money at the banking ATM network,” he adds.
The Vigil Fleet Card system has the ability to limit card usage to a select network of vendors, further increasing the security parameters controlling the use of the card.
“It’s an exciting development tailored specifically for the fleet-transport environment,” Wordon reiterates. “Eventually we’ll be able to offer a ‘menu option’ for customers to customise their own card payment solution on a case-by-case basis.”
As each phase of the system rolls out and workflow processes are put in place with each customer, the Vigil Fleet Card will also become increasingly integrated with other Altech Netstar products and services.
“For example, we plan to integrate the card payment solution with our telematics system so that the authorisation of refuelling can be achieved via the fleet management system. In addition, if the telematics GPS coordinates don’t match the vendor GPS code, the transaction will be declined,” says Wordon.
“Further card security parameters are also planned, including pre-authorisation SMS approval requests; where the customer’s fleet control room can validate the vehicle’s telemetry information to see that everything checks out before a transaction is authorised.
“We’re starting off with a simple, very secure solution aimed at addressing our customers’ immediate on-road expense needs. We will continue to partner with our customers and expand the solution around their evolving requirements,” Wordon elaborates.
The system has been in the pilot stage for more than 12 months with three external fleets and with Altech Netstar’s own fleet of over 200 mobile fitment vehicles. The company also researched the concept with a cross spectrum of long- and short-haul fleets at the beginning of its development. Thus far, customer reaction has been most positive. “There is a peace-of-mind factor for both the drivers and management,” says Wordon.
What is the cost of this security and convenience? “The customer pays a fixed monthly rate for the card, which includes transaction fees, as opposed to traditional banking cards that charge per transaction,” Wordon explains.
“The Vigil Fleet Card solution is a good example of how we listen to our customers and continually seek ways to exceed their expectations by providing market-leading technology solutions,” Wordon concludes.
No, cards are not a new phenomenon in transport … not unless you are talking about this card!