Today I sat down to process roughly two months worth of expenses – that has to be the bane of any small business owner’s life – bookkeeping. It still makes zero sense to me how manual the whole process still is.
And I’m probably closer to the cutting edge of technology than most. At least I’m clued in enough to use apps that allow me to take photos of my receipts and extract data from them, to cut down as much as possible the data entry element.
But of course when you think about how easy life is outside of business related apps, nothing ever feels fast or seamless enough. There really is no Uber Eats of business banking and financial applications. At least not yet.
Which is why I got excited (for UK residents) when I heard about Curve’s latest integration with Xero, and its ability to streamline expense tracking for small business owners like me.
Curve is one of those seemingly micro-innovations that cleverly straddles the digital wallet and physical card world incredibly well. Rather than extreme disruption, it has found a comfortable and acceptable middle ground for the pragmatic and realistic consumer. This is really brilliant when you think about it, and not something a lot of fintech providers do well. While disruption is romantic and exciting for investors and founders, there is a danger in being too unorthodox, especially in financial services. You can be too far ahead of the curve, so much so there are no customers out there at all, willing to join you.
Unlike Apple Pay and its peers, instead of trying to get us to convert overnight to paying for everything with a tap of our smart phone, Curve simply asks us to roll our multiple credit cards into one plastic card, then control which card we are really paying from via the Curve App. It’s innovation the average punter would actually get.
The company has now signed up more than 75,000 users, with around £70 million pounds in transaction volume having gone through its platform.
But back to its latest direct Xero integration. The Curve platform can now send all expense related transactions directly into the accounting software through one feed, from whichever card (or cards) a user nominates as having business expense related transactions.
What is even better is that via their ‘financial time travel’ feature, if a user accidentally purchases a business related item on a personal card, they have the ability to push it to another card after the payment has already taken place. This seems like a smart way to game credit cards that offer high rewards points but are often surcharged at the counter by merchants.
The user still has to photograph the receipt to attach this to their transaction, which means the technology isn’t the exact expense nirvana I’m still hunting for. But perhaps in the future Curve will find a way to marry tax and POS data with payments data, so I never have to touch or photograph a piece of paper again in my life. That would be something.