An Interview: FLEETCOR buys PayByPhone


An Interview: FLEETCOR buys PayByPhone

Parking Today interviews Jonny Combe, Chief Executive Officer, PayByPhone, following FLEETCOR’s acquisition of PayByPhone.


PT: What does this acquisition mean for PayByPhone? 

JC: It opens an exciting chapter in our journey and starts a new partnership with a highly-engaged shareholder. We are very excited about this new relationship, not only for our people and our products, but also for our clients and our customers. 


PT: How will things change for your clients and your customers?

JC: For our 1,350 city and parking operator clients, they will see signs of investment in both our people and our products. Our fleet clients will reap the benefits as we leverage FLEETCOR’s dominant global position in this space. And for our 6 million active monthly users – the motorists – they will notice new features and functions, some beyond just simply parking, appearing in our app. 


PT: Will the PayByPhone brand continue to exist? 

JC: Absolutely. PayByPhone is a well-known and well-established brand that will continue to operate under its own name, developing our products and services with our clients and our users in mind. Rest assured, we remain fully committed to serving our clients and customers. 


PT: FLEETCOR, your new shareholder, isn’t well-known in parking. Do you consider this an advantage or a disadvantage? 

JC: FLEETCOR is a global leader in business payment solutions, in particular, vehicle, mobility and corporate payments. FLEETCOR has over 800,000 business clients and five million consumers, so there are many synergies between us that are clearly advantageous for both of us. One of the many benefits we enjoy from being owned by a highly-engaged shareholder with a global footprint – both for our team members and our clients – is access to more resources and a wider reach. 


PT: What attracted FLEETCOR to PayByPhone? 

JC: It is clear that FLEETCOR recognizes the value we bring to its portfolio. We provide to FLEETCOR a strategic entry point to the parking market. But most importantly, FLEETCOR has been transparent about PayByPhone being integral to its Fleet Transformation Plan, which it states is its single most important effort to add shareholder value.


PT: FLEETCOR is very big in the business-to-business space. How will PayByPhone use this to its advantage? 

JC: FLEETCOR is dominant in this space. As I mentioned, it has over 800,000 business clients across more than 150 countries globally, so there is much to leverage. The key is to ensure we integrate and expand in a strategically focused way to guarantee the best outcome for our existing and new customers. Initially we will be working with FLEETCOR on its expansion of its vehicle payment solutions in North America and the UK, but plans for the rest of Europe will soon follow. 


PT: Why did Volkswagen Financial Services decide to sell you? 

JC: Volkswagen Financial Services made the decision to refocus its business strategy on its core operations, moving forward with its own platforms and streamlining its subsidiary companies. It therefore opted to divest from the PayByPhone business. 


PT: Can you share any specific plans you have for PayByPhone under your new owners? 

JC: The levels of disruption in the world of mobility today are nothing short of seismic and there are massive opportunities on the horizon across all the markets in which both PayByPhone and FLEETCOR operate. PayByPhone has worked hard over the past few years to simplify the journeys of our users so that they can concentrate on the things that matter most to them. We have fostered strong bonds with some of the leading cities in the world which will be at the pinnacle of this mobility transformation. The U.S., along with the UK and Brazil, are the focus to expand the consumer piece of this Transformation Plan. To put it simply, PayByPhone has the customers and FLEETCOR has the networks. This is the perfect synergy for double digit growth, and an environment where the customers will benefit from a broader range of services through one anchor app beyond just parking, such as EV charging, tolling, service and repair networks, and even micro insurance offerings. 


PT: How important will the emerging EV charging sector be to both the PayByPhone and the wider FLEETCOR businesses? 

JC: As part of FLEETCOR’s Fleet Transformation Plan, PayByPhone is integral to the acceleration of FLEETCOR’s EV consumer strategy. Part of what attracted FLEETCOR to us was our roughly 6 million active monthly users. EV payments and parking payments naturally go together, so it makes sense to partner with other brands in FLEETCOR’s portfolio, for example, PlugSurfing, and pair them in one anchor app that encompasses more than just parking.


PT: Could you share your thoughts on EasyPark’s announcement regarding its plan to acquire the Flowbird Group?

JC: It’s an exciting time in our industry, and the competitive landscape is always evolving. I obviously can’t delve into the specifics of EasyPark’s announcement – I have only read what has been in the press – but it appears to be an intention to buy another parking company. Our plans, which are already in full force, significantly differ from this because they extend beyond the silo of parking. FLEETCOR has EV payments, fuel payments, a service repair network, and tolling solutions, and we will be able to tap into all of those additional market segments creating some really exciting, combined product offerings beyond just parking. 


PT: And finally, what message does this acquisition send to your competitors? 

JC: The acquisition sends a very clear message: PayByPhone is here to stay, and here to grow. We are energized, confident and focused. Thanks to FLEETCOR, our reach is going to grow, our backing is going to grow and our offering is going to grow. We’ll be pushing boundaries and testing limits, and we can’t wait. 

Article contributed by the Parking PT team.
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