Expensify founder and CEO David Barrett recently announced that the
10-year-old company would not release new features “for a while,” but
that doesn’t mean the expense management provider isn’t upgrading its
system. Many recent enhancements aim to improve existing features and
the user experience and prepare the company to scale up.
Small & Midsize Business Credit Card Integration
Expensify now can import sub-account card feeds from American Express
Open, the card network’s small and midsize business credit card offering.
“We can allow company admins to import employee credit cards, providing
the same ease of use and centralized capabilities of commercial card feeds but
for these SMB-focused company cards,” Barrett said. Administrators can see a
card’s expenses, whether those are legitimate business expenditures, whether a
given expense needs a receipt and whether a given expense has been submitted.
New Fee Structure
Since 2014, Expensify has charged $9 per user per month and hasn’t used
contracts. Now, clients that sign up for at least a one-year contract will receive
that same pricing. Others can opt for the flex billing plan at $18 per user per
month. A free six-week trial still is available to all. Barrett said the move will
help Expensify invest in long-term customers. “We were spending a tremendous amount of time bringing on new customers … but if they don’t actually
onboard, then they never get active and never pay us anything,” he said.
In recent years, Expensify has implemented machine learning; the platform
creates expense reports for travelers, automates expense approval for managers and automates reimbursement for accounts payable. But Barrett admitted
that all clients aren’t comfortable enabling all the automation. “A very large
fraction of businesses use a subset of that functionality … so the less automation you enable, the more of a manual process it is.” So in the past two months,
the company improved the manual reporting process. “If you want to do it
by hand, we’re going to give you the best possible experience.” That meant
streamlining the Web platform and the app. For example, Expensify rewrote
code to make it easier for users to pick and choose expenses to drag into an
expense report and to search for expenses more quickly.
The company also took steps to optimize the code for each the Android and
iOS apps to speed up page refreshes and data loading. “Everything is much
more consistent with the website and just better overall,” Barrett said. The
company also expects to finish upgrading its data center hardware this year,
ensuring that Expensify can continue to process expenses quickly as it grows.
PAYMENT & EXPENSE EDITOR JOANN DELUNA Payment & Expense
amount of time
bringing on new
but if they don’t
then they never
get active and
never pay us
—EXPENSIFY’S DAVID BARRETT
North America-based travel management companies and clients of Bank of
America Merrill Lynch now can generate
virtual card numbers for immediate use
while booking hotels, flights and car rentals. Conferma has set up an application
programming interface that connects the
bank, TMCs and travel suppliers.
BofA’s Virtual Payables solution automatically inserts in the reservation a virtual
card number for the exact amount of the
booking, or it can include a buffer amount
to allow for purchases of incidentals. BofA
has enabled the payment option for both
online and offline bookings. A spokesperson
said the most frequent use of BofA virtual
cards is booking by travel agents on behalf
of non-corporate cardholders, who typically
are infrequent travelers and nonemployees
who may not have a booking tool profile.
The virtual card confirmation details are
sent to hotels through a secure link or a fax,
depending on the hotel’s capability.
Before the enhancement, BofA clients
that paid for bookings centrally did so via
lodge cards or central travel accounts.
Those created reconciliation challenges
and negatively impacted the traveler experience, according to BofA. Clients also could
use virtual cards, but the card numbers
came from a pool of recycled numbers and
the process of getting a card number to use
at payment “wasn’t easy,” said BofA head
of global card and comprehensive payables
BoA launched a similar capability, Travel
Pro, with Conferma in EMEA in 2015, and it
has expanded to Asia/Pacific, according to
Bank of America
Clients Can Create
Numbers at Booking
Oversight has added two capabilities to its Insights on Demand solution as part of
its core offering. Research from the monitoring and auditing company indicates that
less than 5 percent of business travelers commit nearly 80 percent of all fraudulent
and major out-of-policy transactions. The new offerings are designed to identify such
The new Repeat Offenders feature automatically highlights those business travelers who claim the most noncompliant reimbursements on expense reports and corporate cards, as well as those who have submitted fraudulent expenses in the past,
such as requesting reimbursement for personal expenses.
The Excessive Attendee feature detects when the same employees repeatedly ap-
pear as attendees on the same meal or entertainment expense claims, a sign that
employees might be adding colleagues’ names to get around spending limits or might
be colluding in some other way. The feature also allows a program manager to set
a total that a salesperson can spend on a certain client or a total number of times a
salesperson can entertain a certain client; the system then would notify the program
manager when expense claims surpass that threshold.
What About When a Senior Exec Triggers a Red Flag?
Research by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners in 2014 indicated that executives and upper management accounted for more incidents of expense reimbursement
fraud than did lower employees: “High-level fraudsters tend to have greater access to
their organizations’ assets than lower-level employees, as well as a better ability to evade
or override anti-fraud controls.” However, it’s hard to encode rules for senior executives
into software because many senior executives enjoy fewer policy restrictions or more
spending leeway. Thus, Insights on Demand allows a company to establish a list of executives and to design an alternative routing hierarchy for their flagged expenses.
Oversight Adds Two Fraud-Detecting Features
Expensify Revamps System &
Introduces New Fee Structure