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Expense account receipts without pain?

New Wells Fargo corp card app makes paper chase a “snap”

Expense account receipts without pain?

Is there any traveling salesman, business executive, or other road warrior who doesn’t grimace at least a little bit at the words “expense account”?

They are the bane of the business traveler, yet they are essential for corporate expense control—and frequently, personal reimbursement. And one of the biggest pains is the missing receipt—or the chit that made it into the wash.

Selfies for receipts

Wells Fargo’s Wholesale Internet Solutions recently launched a app for the iPhone and the Android that helps make expense accounts an easier experience for the spender and for the whole corporate chain from that point up.

The new app feeds images of receipts snapped at point of purchase or afterwards into a company’s records in the proprietary Wells Commercial Card Expense Reporting system. There, they synch up with digital records of charges to the user’s card. Firms must be users of Wells’ Commercial Card corporate card, and the transactions must be charged to a Wells card.

“We geared the look and feel of the app to the mobile space, though it can also work on tablets,” says Michele Dutcher, vice-president and commercial card product manager at Wells.

Service meets common business complaint

The app is part of Well’s CEO Mobile service. The expense account functions can also be reached through a browser if necessary, such as if a user wants to check something via a laptop or desktop computer. Internet displays are standardized, but various available modules allow companies to customize data streams feeding into their systems from the Wells service.

Wells’ July announcement quoted an early adopter—the bank did a four-month pilot and launched the service to customers in June—who found that receipts were less likely to be lost when captured and uploaded with the app.

“This new solution will help us increase our percentage of receipts collected,” said Curtis Thelen, program administrator at Universal Avionics, Tucson, Ariz.

Expanding to that other device?

Optical character recognition from shots taken of receipts is not yet available, though Dutcher says it is something the bank is looking at.

At present the app is not available for Blackberry devices. Dutcher says Wells is still evaluating whether to develop a Blackberry app. Though the company’s research indicates that the Blackberry base is stable, she says, it is not growing. By contrast the other bases are growing, and Android usage has been catching up to iPhone use.

Steve Cocheo

Steve Cocheo’s career in business journalism has taken him to all 50 states and nearly every corner of banking in institutions of all sizes. He is executive editor of Bankers Exchange, digital content manager of www.bankingexchange.com, and editor of Bank Directors Briefing. Previously he spent 36 years on the staff of ABA Banking Journal. He is the only journalist to have sat in on three federal banking exams, was a finalist for the Jesse H. Neal national business journalism awards, and a winner of multiple awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors.

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