Expense reports are, at times, a study in mismatch: Employees in the field pay out of pocket, collect receipts, hopefully save them and submit reports for reimbursement days or weeks later. And while the wait for the reimbursement may be an excruciating one for the employee, the employer may have headaches as well — as in, tracking spending and identifying who has spent what and in a legitimate manner.
Pleo, spotlighted in these virtual pages before, has been busy trying to simplify the spend management process for both the employee and the firm. Payment card startup Pleo said earlier this month that it had raised $3 million in a round led by Founders, in turn funded by several backers, including Kirkbi, William Demant Invest and Bestseller.
During an interview with PYMNTS, Jeppe Rindom, CEO of Pleo, stated that Copenhagen remains a strong venue for venture capital interest and funding, while, on a micro-level, the firm has seen enough demand for its core spending solution to act on expansion plans, both in terms of product and geographic reach.
That $3 million will be earmarked to bring scale to the payment card solutions, now in beta and being used by smaller businesses within the European market with less than 250 employees. And while initial forays are, thus far, in Denmark and the U.K., Rindom told PYMNTS he expects the longer-term geographic push to move further into Europe.
And though Pleo is “onboarding customers each day,” he noted that the number of inbound queries (say, via emails), in which firms are looking for more information as to what can be done to better keep track of spending, “is 40 times greater than what we can handle,” which, of course, speaks to the need for scale. Also, partnerships with other firms to help outreach may be in the offing for outbound marketing and expansion efforts, said Rindom.
Speaking specifically to the demand for payment card solutions, Rindom noted that the ability to automate the matching of receipts to categorized spending can help alleviate manual processes. All too often, when it comes to expense reports, he said, “managers do not ask questions” when it comes to expenses already incurred and then presented for reimbursement (which often have a lag time). The cards enabled by Pleo are able to eliminate — through flexibility that can set individual card limits — what Rindom termed “administrative pain points.”
As for interest in the adoption of automated expense reporting — wherein employees can take pictures of their receipts and managers can view purchases in real time — Rindom said interest from firms, thus far, comes via several different avenues from would-be customers — firms where “employees are traveling or through finance professionals who want to manage processes and who need tools to do so.”
The trend toward SMBs gaining more ability to delegate and control spending by employees, said Rindom, also has an additional benefit, in addition to reducing complexity: Smart payment cards can foster “a healthy expense culture” in firms.