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Certify has acquired expense management company Abacus for an undisclosed amount. Abacus joins expense tools ExpenseWatch, Nexonia and Tallie under Certify's management. Each company has maintained its own brand identity, as will Abacus, according to Certify founder and CEO Bob Neveu.
Certify was drawn to what Abacus calls its real-time expense reporting technology. Neveu described it as Abacus' ability to submit expenses as they come in, "an expense report without the expense report."
Abacus was one of the first companies to eliminate the expense report. Rather than requiring employees to submit expenses in batches associated with particular trips or time periods, the system submits each expense item individually as it comes in. Abacus retrieves details using optical character recognition of the receipt, as well as geolocation, and it employs machine learning to categorize the expense and pair the receipt with a corporate card charge. Should a company choose, it can reimburse complete and compliant expenses automatically.
Other expense management firms, including Certify and Expensify, have since launched real-time expense reporting functionality—which automatically creates expense items, pairs credit card transactions with receipts and submits expenses for manager approval—but Neveu said Abacus remains "a game changer." While Certify's own expense reporting tool ReportExecutive creates expense items automatically, it groups and submits them on a scheduled basis—for example, on the first and 15th of every month—thereby maintaining the expense report concept. "In Abacus, "he explained, "if I take a picture on July 1st at 2 p.m., it goes to the manager at 2:01 p.m., [having gone through travel] policy and artificial intelligence," Neveu said.
Expensify branded the term Realtime Expense Reports in 2015, when it launched similar functionality. According to Expensify CEO David Barrett, RTER adoption was high among new companies, those not married to traditional expense processes; established clients, however, tended to turn the setting off and revert to traditional, batched reports.
Neveu is aware that real-time expense reporting is not for everyone. "I'm not saying one system is better than the other," he said. "Some companies absolutely want a definitive report for a period of time, project or trip and don't want 50 expenses coming in individually. Others say, 'I don't care. Send them through, and we will handle as they come through." Now, Certify is in a position to offer both methods, he said.
Abacus—co-founded in 2013 by CEO Omar Qari, chief technology officer Josh Halickman and chief product officer Ted Power—has more than 1,000 corporate clients. Most have fewer than 500 employees, but clients also include marquee companies like file-hosting service Dropbox and automated email marketing platform MailChimp, according to Neveu.
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