Google Maps Platform provides relevance and continuity of experience
Expensya chose the Google Maps Platform in 2016 after testing other solutions. “Google Maps guarantees us 99.9% availability. We have the capacity to be fast and robust, knowing that for Expensya, our processes are performed in real time on invoices. We don’t have time to wait for the sent address to be analysed and interpreted before sending us back a response and Google gives us this robustness. The other reason that guided our choice was the popularity of Google Maps with our users and the fact that they are used to the map’s graphical interface,” explains Karim Jouini.
The third reason that convinced Expensya is the Maps Places API global address database which means that the solution uses a single database for address verification. “Our invoice digitisation solution is used in more than 100 countries. Maps Places API gives us this relevance and continuity of experience in these 100 countries,” adds the CEO.
Our invoice digitisation solution is used in more than 100 countries. Maps Places API gives us this relevance and continuity of experience in these 100 countries.
— Karim Jouini, CEO at Expensya
To perform the various steps of expense report processing, Expensya draws on several Google Maps Platform APIs such as Maps Geocoding API to view invoice addresses on a map. In the case of mileage expenses, users can access a module that uses Maps Directions API to reconstruct their journeys when these are composed of several stages. The application also uses Maps Distance Matrix API to measure the distances travelled.
The user uses the predictive (autocomplete) input of Maps Places API which consults the most up-to-date address database on the market, avoiding errors. Expensya is be used to anticipate expenses when preparing a trip. “Expensya can use the information entered by the user (departure and arrival addresses) and Google Maps Platform, to calculate the amount of their per diem allowance (breakfast, lunch, etc.) according to national scales or calculate their mileage costs,” explains the co-founder.
Automating verification of an expense by using its geographical context
Maps Distance Matrix API, the distance calculation API, is used to estimate the distance to the location entered by the user. The application also uses Maps Geocoding API to locate OCR-recognised addresses directly from invoices. The application checks their compatibility with the context of the expenditure, by comparing them to the Maps Places API address database. Expensya can confirm if the expense is “standard” because it has the employee’s prior record and can apply Artificial Intelligence to this task. “We know very well that prices in Barcelona are higher in February due to the amount of events organised during this period, unlike in December. We do this in the same way with the expenses processed with Google Maps Platform so that managers only have to validate those that present a problem,” explains Karim.
Google Maps Platform enables Expensya to make the dreaded tax audit stage more reliable for companies. “We observe that our clients’ management of expense reports is relatively non-uniform. However, these various expenses (restaurant receipts, mileage costs, etc.) are also difficult for companies to manage and they constitute an Achilles heel, to the point of becoming a real risk for them. The amounts concerned can represent 8% to 9% of the wage bill, and these expenses are considered as benefits and therefore subject to tax,” explains Karim. Errors can be costly. In the case of mileage expenses, for example, Expensya will perform the route calculation using Maps Directions API which will be used as the basis for reimbursement, with the user only having to enter their points of departure and arrival. Thanks to the digitisation of data management, the tax auditor will quickly verify and determine the reliability of the information reported. There is, a real time saving in the event of an inspection and the risk of error is virtually eliminated.
Saving time for users and making data entry more reliable
“Expensya saves employees 90% of their time, and our vision is to achieve 100%,” declares Karim Jouini and he continues, “In other words, our objective is to make them quite simply forget what an expense report is.” Google Maps Platform plays a key role in this time saving. As regards mileage allowances, the Expensya team has calculated that, at the beginning, the time saved was about 50% just by using an appropriate mapping solution. Further savings are provided by UX (user experience) which facilitates the reporting stage. Expensya also saves time for other persons involved such as the manager and the accountant. The application ends up virtually eliminating 100% of the tax and social risk. Not forgetting the reliability of the OCR associated with Maps Places API: “When we deployed Places API to read invoices, we eliminated 30% of errors. This is very significant, because it helps remove uncertainty about the supplier locations,” says the Expensya boss.
Geolocation is very important for the application, while not being considered as critical data. “It is qualitative data which simply improves the reliability of other data,” explains Karim Jouini.
Expensya has moved from the free version of Google Maps to a paid version with the introduction of Google Maps Platform. The Franco-Tunisian company has made this transition by drawing on the advice and expertise of Web Geo Services. Pricing changes have led the startup to give some thought to how it implements the various APIs in order to use them wisely, both for technical and budgetary considerations.
Expensya has experienced rapid growth since its creation and, like many startups, it has to deal with the effects of this hyper-growth such as an increase in customer numbers and the need for a company to attract new talent without neglecting to maintain, develop and grow the application. “In 12 months, we have experienced 400% growth,” says the co-founder of Expensya. “Expensya’s future lies in equipping customers with an in-app payment solution, which will further reduce the inputting of business expenses. We are automating everything, from the authorisation request to accounting, including payment, invoice and audit”, concludes Karim Jouini. Some customers are already trialling this tool, which should be rolled out by early 2021.