MasterCard’s Smart Data Enhancement Simplifies Expense Management

MasterCard today announced mobile innovations and feature enhancements to Smart Data, the company’s industry leading suite of commercial expense management and analytics products. Among the updates, new receipt management mobile applications can liberate corporate cardholders from the burden of getting and filing paper receipts for expenses.

The new Smart Data Mobile Receipt Capture App for iOS, Android and Blackberry users, enable corporate cardholders to directly upload receipts by taking a smartphone picture and directly attaching them to an expense report and allowing cardholders to toss the dreaded paper receipt. Managers will appreciate the efficiency and control of the mobile app as it effortlessly connects the cardholders receipt to the backside accounting systems.

In addition, MasterCard is releasing a Mobile Fleet e-Receipt App to assist businesses and governments needing accurate and timely data to manage automotive fleets. The mobile fleet app allows drivers to visit any fuel merchant and enter the data required by their fleet managers, including the type and amount of fuel purchased or the price paid per gallon along with many additional features. With this new App, companies can benefit from greater vehicle efficiency and driver compliance that can help achieve additional costs savings. spoke with Robert Reeves, Group Head, Commercial Information Platforms, Global Commercial Products, MasterCard, to learn more about these recent innovations.

What new enhancements and innovations to the Smart Data platform and smartdata.gen2 is MasterCard announcing this week?

We’ve introduced and piloted four things in Commercial MIS solutions. They include two Smart Data mobile apps that make expense reporting for T&E and Fleet much easier and more accurate; an improvement to Smart Data’s user-defined export capability; and a graphical analytics module.

You mentioned two new Smart Data mobile applications. Please describe them and why they are important to corporate T&E cardholders and Fleet card users.

We’ve been monitoring sensible expense management mobile applications for some time and this year decided to strategically enter the space. Our new Smart Data receipt capture app for iOS, Android and Blackberry allows corporate cardholders to keep the receipt, but toss the paper. To speed up expense reporting and reconciliation, corporate cardholders can now directly upload receipt images by taking a smartphone picture and then attaching the image to the individual transaction when they complete their expense report. We are actively taking issuers and their commercial companies on board for that ongoing pilot.

Similarly, we’ve identified a need for Fleet refueling data, especially in markets where merchants do not capture or send it along to cardholding companies. So we’ve been piloting a mobile app that requires data input at the refueling point. Responding to prompts, drivers enter data such as merchant, amount, type and cost of fuel, odometer reading and driver number, and the data ships to their reporting and accounting tools. It’s shown an improvement in efficiencies for companies in the areas in Canada and Europe where we’ve piloted.

We’re also considering additional expansions of our mobile capability to put more of the expense management process into increasingly mobile managers’ and cardholders’ hands.

Do these mobile solutions help companies save money? How?

Savings from using an automated system instead of paper-based reconciliation are well documented; for example, the combined application of travel card and expense management technology cuts the overall time to process an expense report by 54%, according to the RPMG 2011 Corporate Travel Card Benchmark Survey. Our mobile receipt capture application should speed that process even further, leaving employees more time for more profitable pursuits.

Additionally, the RPMG 2012 Purchasing Card Benchmark Survey reported that 61% of North American corporations that use spending data to negotiate vendor discounts report getting a higher discount because of the practice. That could apply to our Fleet application, as it supports more accurate data capture than manual processes (or no process at all), thus giving companies more insight into how much and how often they’re paying for fuel at specific merchants.

You mentioned improvements to Smart Data’s User-Defined Exports, UDEs. What are UDEs and what is the value of this new update to issuers and corporations?

We’ve improved automation of our UDE features so issuers can configure new spending reports as a self-service, instead of turning to MasterCard for custom work. This new UDE functionality can help issuers save hundreds of thousands of dollars because it reduces their need to ask MasterCard to custom-build reports for their customers.

SmartData Analytics also has a new enhancement. Please expand on what’s new and its value to companies.

Our customers have been very happy about new analytics capabilities that allow dynamic generation of charts and graphs right on screen. Smart Data Analytics delivers quick views into spending, changes over time, areas for concern or areas of rapid growth. It’s very intuitive and useful. We introduced that capability for issuers late last year, and we will be launching it to commercial cardholder companies in a subsequent release.

Do other companies offer similar technologies? What makes Smart Data the best expense management solution for businesses?

Companies know that when it comes to Commercial spending, the card is only one part of the story. The quality of data, ease of data capture, flexibility and reach of the Commercial MIS tool are all big factors in managing business expenses.

Smart Data has some clear advantages over other industry solutions in those areas. From the scope of what our solution offers to our track record to the number of languages in which smartdata.gen2 is available, we’re ahead of the game. This is because MasterCard delivers a single proprietary MIS solution for all card programs, geographies, and customer segments— and we’re actively innovating to ensure we stay ahead.

Does the value of Smart Data vary by the size of the business?

Yes. A multinational corporation may need a consolidated view of spending across multiple divisions, geographic regions or card programs (such as Corporate Cards and Purchasing Cards)—including transactions in multiple currencies—in a single view.

Large organizations or government agencies may need to support multiple General Ledger tables and complex hierarchies. The Smart Data Global Data Repository and our Web-based reporting and analytics tool, smartdata.gen2, can roll up that spending to as high a level as necessary, and handle the complexities of larger entities. A smaller company, or one with a single card program, can use a configuration with fewer options turned on to keep it simple and make expense reporting and accounting easier.

And of course companies of any size can elect to receive data feeds from the Global Data Repository into their own chosen Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or accounting tool, from QuickBooks to SAP. It’s all supported by one global data platform, with dedicated staff around the world.

Rob Reeves
Group Head, Commercial Information Platforms,
Global Commercial Products, MasterCard

Robert Reeves joined MasterCard Worldwide in 2001 and is group head responsible for Customer Information Platforms, Global Commercial Products for the commercial payments business globally. His responsibilities include managing, implementing and operating several key MasterCard products and services for customer banks and their clients globally. These include the Smart Data suite of reporting solutions, Enhanced Data, Enhanced Merchant Reporting, the Global Data Repository and Customer Service functions for commercial products. He also oversaw the integration of Orbiscom Ltd., a software company based in Dublin, Ireland that MasterCard acquired in January 2009.

Mr. Reeves has extensive global experience in both B2B and consumer businesses, working throughout Western and Central Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, the Caribbean, Canada and the U.S. He spent 11 years at American Express in the Corporate Card and Travel businesses, as well as helped to establish their Global Network Services business, licensing banks to become issuers and acquirers for the Amex brand around the world.

Mr. Reeves has also been responsible for creating Small Business, Corporate, Purchasing, Prepaid and Smart cards and e-solutions for banks to issue and process. In other roles, he secured the Federal Government account, led several major acquisitions and strategic alliances, established a new franchising entity and developed new startup businesses. He also headed up sales, customer service, operations and multiple call centers serving Fortune 1000 clients and developed product and technical solutions for banks and multinational clients. He served as general manager of a national consumer travel company and led extensive consumer advertising, marketing and PR activities designed to drive strong business growth. He has served on many industry Advisory Boards and panels. Mr. Reeves received his Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia and his MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto, Canada.