U.S. Bank ties expense report management to virtual cards
U.S. Bank has partnered with a fintech called TravelBank to add features to its virtual corporate card and expense management offerings.
It's an extension of work that U.S. Bank has been doing in this area for more than a year and gained more urgency during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In May 2019, the Minneapolis-based bank launched an app with Chrome River called Expense Wizard that combines virtual payments and expense reporting with a chatbot. It gives business customers' employees an app to help them arrange travel within company policies, pay with a virtual card in a mobile wallet and capture and file receipts for expense reports.
The app prompts users to scan each receipt and provide a few details about the expense. Artificial intelligence in the background understands company policy and presents appropriate questions. The Expense Wizard on its own picks up the date, the time and the merchant's industry.
U.S. Bank in June launched a virtual corporate card that can be linked to a mobile wallet. This was intended to give companies a way to provide their suddenly remote staff and contractors a way to make purchases without having to use personal credit cards.
On Tuesday, U.S. Bank added integration with TravelBank’s technology to Expense Wizard and the instant virtual card. This will allow U.S. Bank to give customers a streamlined process for generating and managing expense reports. TravelBank can act as a full-fledged expense management system or it can work with existing programs like Concur.
TravelBank founder and CEO Duke Chung founded a customer experience software startup called Parature from his dorm room at Cornell University and sold it to Microsoft in 2014. During his year at Microsoft, the top complaint his employees had after the Parature sale was about the expense management software Microsoft used, Concur.
That gave Chung the idea to build what he calls Concur 2.0: expense management software people would enjoy using. His company created an expense management app that lets people snap photos of their receipts; the software turns them into machine-readable data that can be automatically routed to a manager for approval and entered into an expense report. It also provides a dashboard for expenses.
“Historically, expense reports happen reactively; typically, they don’t have visibility,” Chung said.
The app’s mobile support is important for people who worry about exposure to the coronavirus and don’t want to have to touch a payment terminal.
“As destructive as the pandemic has been, it’s accelerated the road map to contactless payment,” Chung said. “If we didn’t have the pandemic, it would have taken three years. We’re seeing now people are using their phones to pay and it’s safer.”
One use case for the new product is business travel, when that resumes. U.S. Bank customers’ employees will be able to arrive at a hotel, hover their phone over a terminal with Apple Pay on and automatically check in and pay at the same time, eliminating the need for companies to fax instructions to the hotel ahead of time.