AtoB, a fleet payments platform, is leveraging telematics and geolocation technology to give commercial transportation operators more insight into fuel purchasing habits and security.
The San Francisco-based startup recently deployed apps and fuel cards capable of optimal station selection, telematics-based location tracking and fuel-level tracking.
“We are effectively modernizing payments for the trucking and broader transportation industry, and when we say the word ‘modernizing,’ we are really trying to build things from the infrastructure level up,” Vignan Velivela, co-founder and CEO of AtoB, told FreightWaves. “We are building on a newer card network which has significantly better reliability.”
AtoB was founded in 2020 by Velivela, Harshita Arora and Tushar Misra. The company’s payments platform provides a suite of tools for the trucking industry, including no-fee fleet cards, instant direct-deposit payroll, and access to bank accounts and savings tools.
The user base for AtoB’s Visa fleet card includes over 30,000 fleets and 100,000 drivers, including owner-operators. The company is also seeing a growing market for fuel card users from rental car companies, as well as last-mile providers.
Velivela said AtoB’s telematics offerings came after working with Visa, as well as partnering with some of the nation’s largest gas station and truck stop chains. The company also works with about 30 telematics providers to gather data from the cards.
Telematics is a branch of IT that deals with the long-distance transmission of computerized information.
“The approach we have taken is to make sure that the driver has a very seamless experience when they’re using a fuel card, while also making sure that all the reporting, all the analytics and any potential for fraud are checked in the background,” Velivela said. “We see this wealth of data we can get from the telematics of trucks in North America, whether you take a long-haul truck, or like some of the other commercial fleets in the regional space, they also use telematics devices.”
Velivela said every time drivers use an AtoB fuel card, they can record things such as how much fuel is in the tank and how much should be authorized for the location of the vehicle.
AtoB also has the ability to lock card usage until an authorized driver texts into the system, and geolocation tools that ensure drivers can only use AtoB cards if they are near their truck.
“We have built this on a real-time payment model,” Velivela said. “Real-time payment is the key emphasis here, because all the things we are doing is to make sure that drivers don’t have to spend countless hours trying to collect receipts or do paperwork; everything is automated end to end.”
In August, AtoB raised $155 million in a Series B round, bringing the company’s total debt and equity raise to $230 million. In recent months, AtoB has also announced fuel card savings partnerships with convenience store chains Casey’s and Kum & Go.
In October, AtoB laid off 30% of its employees, a move that company officials said was related to “external economic headwinds and a broader restructuring” of the company.
Velivela said the outlook for 2023 remains strong, as AtoB looks to increase its market share in the fleet card space. Other fleet card operators include major firms such as Fleetcor and WEX, as well as smaller startups such as OnRamp and MudFlap.
“As long as people are moving goods, fuel is a core part of the industry,” Velivela said. “We think that the way we are diversifying is we’re not just concentrated in trucking, we are working with local fleets, regional fleets and building on some secular trends, like e-commerce. We are continuing to grow faster this year compared to last year because of that wider customer base we are serving.”
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