Dwolla, Shoeboxed deploy faster expense payments

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With clients seeking a faster way to reimburse employees for expenses, Shoeboxed turned to payments technology provider Dwolla to help create Fetch.

The Durham, N.C.-based digital receipts and records provider will launch the Fetch app for iOS and Android devices nationally on Aug. 8, giving businesses of 50 or fewer employees the ability to pay expenses for scanned receipts daily or weekly.

For the past year, Dwolla has been working on an alternative to the Automated Clearing House with a system it has proposed to the Federal Reserve for consideration in its faster payments plans. The expense process is just one use case for a faster payments engine.

"We wanted a faster ACH, and that's why we worked with Dwolla, which is almost a turnkey solution for us," said Michael Hourigan, director of marketing for Shoeboxed. "With Fetch, expense report payments can come within a few days, rather than a few weeks."

Shoeboxed is targeting companies that continue to use Excel spreadsheets and "stapled receipts" for their employee expense reports, looking to convert those to the Fetch Admin Dashboard that will allow an administrator to monitor employee submissions.

When signing up for Fetch, the company would be able to choose the timing of its expense payments. "Typically, we get in touch with these administrators and, for the sake of the employees, ask them to at least try to do the payments once a week to make it part of their regular work flow," Hourigan said.

Because the employee can immediately submit a receipt for payment through the app, the company can address each receipt without holding up the other associated expenses for reimbursement, Hourigan added. "At least some receipts can always be paid off," he said.

Since recently pivoting from consumer-facing apps to concentrate on payment gateway technology, Dwolla finds Shoeboxed a good example of where its application programming interfaces can speed up payments.

“Dwolla’s nearly decade-long focus on bank transfers affords our API and our partners certain flexibility and ease that you just don’t see with traditional Automated Clearing House providers,” James Eliason, director of product at Dwolla, said in submitted statement.

In its first version, Fetch will not integrate into accounting systems, but will include many reporting features for administrators to properly slot expenses and payments.

"We know we may have to add the accounting capabilities in the future, but to be honest, we didn't want to try to have a lot of bells and whistles right out of the gate," Hourigan said. "We didn't want it to be more complicated or more expensive."

Shoeboxed says that more than 1 million small-business owners worldwide rely on its handling of business documents like receipts, business cards and financial records. Hourigan estimates that about 2,000 U.S. clients would be candidates to quickly migrate to Fetch for its employee expense reimbursement.

"We are hoping that is a good way to make this launch much easier, to piggyback off those customers we already have," Hourigan said.

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