Corporate travel is evolving, and that means travel and expense management solutions are, too. From cloud-based solutions to mileage tracking on an Apple Watch, T&E innovators are picking up on what technologies business travelers and their managers want to manage corporate spend.
As expense management firm Penny gears up to enter the market, PYMNTS spoke with its co-founder and COO, Tony Ferguson, to talk about why his company chose to go with the prepaid card to help businesses oversee their employee spending.
“A prepaid card is a great solution for expense management, as a business can easily control budgets and spending,” Ferguson explained, adding that they’re easy to control, and the process to onboard employees is also easy. “Administrators can also load, unload or block a card instantly from their Penny app.”
That app is the mobile component of Penny’s new T&E solution, set to rollout onto the market in the near future. By linking a prepaid card to a mobile application, both travelers and managers get a greater visual of what traveling employees are buying with their company’s money.
According to Ferguson, it’s the combination of mobile and prepaid card that Penny sees as the strongest way to track purchases.
“Imagine if your mobile banking transaction list was also the foundation of your expense report,” he said, adding that Penny automates data entry of transactions made with the prepaid card – including the date, purchase amount and merchant.
The solution then automatically advises a cardholder to take a picture of their receipt, which Penny then connects to the transaction data. All of this information then integrates, also automatically, into existing accounting programs like QuickBooks or Xero, Ferguson explained.
The use of a mobile app is not unique to Penny when it comes to helping employees manage their spending. And that’s no surprise: With corporate travelers often unable to access a desktop computer, it makes sense to bring their T&E solutions mobile.
But what is less common on the market today is the prepaid debit card element of the solution.
Like other corporate cards, a prepaid card can allow a corporate travel manager to set spending limits and gain visibility into all transactions made through a single portal. Companies don’t have to deal with the friction of their employees filing an expense report, their corporate managers reviewing those reports, the reimbursement process, or the potential for expense management errors.
Unlike other solutions linked to a corporate card, though, travel managers dictate how much money goes on the card, meaning employees are far less likely to overdo it with their purchases.
“This new approach, using the data generated from the transaction as the foundation of the expense report combined with a real-time view of that report for the administrator, prevents missing expense reports and makes it easier to detect rogue claims,” Ferguson said. Plus, he added, a prepaid card prevents any potential for rogue spending to harm a business’s credit.
[bctt tweet=”Penny prevents missing expense reports and makes it easier to detect rogue claims”]
When Penny first announced its new solution last month, the company made sure to note that there will be no transaction fees associated with the use of a prepaid card – a crucial necessity considering recent controversies regarding usage and maintenance fees with such payment products.
The COO said that a T&E service that combines a mobile and card element – a pairing becoming more prevalent on the market today – also has significant potential to meet the needs of corporate travelers through the use of innovative technology.
This combination seems to hint that a mobile wallet may be the logical next step in developing solutions for corporate expense management. When asked whether he agreed, Ferguson replied, “absolutely.” In fact, he added, Penny already has a mobile wallet solution on its radar.
“On our development roadmap is to integrate a wallet into the app, including a multicurrency solution for business travelers,” he said, adding that Penny’s prepaid card can also be uploaded to existing mobile wallets that corporate travelers may have on their smartphones.
As the company prepares for the debut of the prepaid card and mobile app solution, Penny is already gearing up for upgrades next March to add flight, hotel and car rental booking capabilities. Will its own mobile wallet follow suit? We’ll have to wait and see.