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By Robin Gregg, CEO of RoadSync

A little over a year ago, the world seemingly shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the trucking industry — and specifically truck drivers — continued operating during a time of great uncertainty and challenge in order to keep the supply chain moving. 

As essential front-line workers, these individuals stepped up in a big way. It was no easy feat, as drivers had to quickly navigate a changing landscape of health and safety protocols. 

For example, at the onset of the pandemic, supply chain centers and warehouses adopted rigid policies limiting in-person interactions. Among many other changes in the inbound and outbound logistics processes, this meant drivers were no longer allowed inside facilities to complete payment transactions after delivering products.

In response to these new challenges, the industry turned to technology. In addition to vital in-cab technology and transportation management systems, fleets looked to incorporate modernized payment platforms into their arsenal of pandemic-ready tools. 

Consequently, in the past year, digital financial technology quickly went from “nice to have” to an integral element of how business is conducted.

Adopting payment technology

The need for secure, remote payment technology has accelerated since the start of the pandemic. A survey by McKinsey & Co. showed that responses to COVID-19 sped up the adoption of digital technologies by several years. Further, the researchers predict that many of the changes made over the course of 2020 are here to stay.

Prior to the pandemic, digital payment technologies were gaining momentum in the industry thanks to fraud-detection features, convenience and efficiency. However, COVID-19 ushered in a new era of safety demands and placed greater emphasis on contactless payments. 

Today, these technologies are being adopted at a higher rate, and for good reason.

Traditionally, businesses in the warehouse, trucking and logistics industries have relied on tedious payment processes, like cash and fleet checks, that leave room for human error — or even fraud in some instances. 

Fintech adoption in these spaces is beneficial because by making the payment process digital and instant, transactions become simplified, payment processing time is reduced, and customers see maximized revenue collection.

By leveraging this technology, fleets are better suited to withstand emergency situations, as processes that rely on paper documents (think billing, payroll and accounts payable) can threaten business continuity if they’re not able to shift to a virtual setting easily. 

In today’s environment, carriers have more reason to digitize any remaining holdouts in their businesses, like manual payment processes, to enhance safety and maintain social distancing for their drivers and their interactions while on the road whether with warehouse or store staff.

What we can expect moving forward

COVID undoubtably delivered a shock to the entire supply chain system. As a result, fleets accelerated technology adoption over the past year to meet the new demands presented by the pandemic in order to protect their drivers and keep them on the road. 

Disruptions like this can often drive positive and permanent change.

Thus, as we look forward to the rest of 2021 and beyond, it’s likely these technological changes will have lasting permanence. Beyond core in-cab technologies and TMS, drivers should expect digitally enabled finances and transactions to continue becoming the industry standard.

Robin Gregg is the CEO of RoadSync, a modern commerce platform that powers transactions in the logistics industry. With a background of more than 15 years of experience building and launching consumer and business financial services, including most recently SVP of product and growth strategy at Fleetcor, Gregg marries her strong leadership skills with a keen understanding of scaling startups.