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Start-up of the Week: Meet Pleo, Europe’s leading business spend solution

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Thanks to Pleo, from mileage to meals, it’s easy to be reimbursed for costs associated with the employees' work trips

In today’s edition of the “Start-up of the Week,” International Finance will talk about Danish fintech Pleo, which offers smart company payment cards and expense management solutions for businesses, apart from automatically categorising its clients’ expenditures and reducing the administrative burden of expense management. The fintech start-up has raised a total of USD 428.1 million in funding over six rounds since its establishment, with the latest round fetching it some USD 200 million in December 2021.

The company, whose valuation, as of June 2024, stands at USD 4.7 billion, offers fintech solutions integrating with accounting software like Xero, thereby allowing companies to set spending limits and control employee expenses. Trusted by over 30,000 ventures, Pleo is simplifying the business spending game by replacing petty cash, shared company cards and manual expense reports with what it claims to be “Europe’s Number One Business Spend Solution.”

What Sets Pleo Apart From Its Competitors?

While Pleo’s fintech solutions work in unison with all sorts of digital accounting systems, including integrations with over 50 apps, the tools put their client companies in control over how and when their employees get reimbursed for their out-of-pocket spending.

Without Pleo’s helping hand, outstanding repayments can cause havoc when it comes to bookkeeping, and not knowing who’s spent what and when creates chaos come end-of-month. With Pleo into play, the same function gets simplified as the client companies can get a clear view of all the money they owe to their staffers, apart from letting employees reimburse themselves or allow the finance team to trigger repayments, putting the leaderships on top of their cash flows.

Talking about the Pleo way of simplifying the business spending game, companies owing their employees money, can send the amount straight to their staffers’ bank accounts, apart from having the option of refunding the employees straight to their personal credit/debit cards. The reimbursement can happen during the salary payment phase as well. Thanks to Pleo, from mileage to meals, it’s easy to be reimbursed for costs associated with the employees’ work trips.

“We’ll calculate the distance and fuel cost of work trips. Simply tell our app where a journey started and ended and we’ll work out what’s owed for fuel. Did you buy something with Pleo that you should have used your own card for? Just mark it as a private purchase and keep track of the money owed between you and your company in the app,” the venture stated further.

Here Are The Products

First up, we have Pleo’s “Business Expense Cards,” which makes spending easy for businesses, whether they are paying for official travel, employee/project expenses or subscriptions. With over 50-plus currencies, Pleo cards help business leaders control their finances while earning cashback.

Pleo’s above solution is more powerful than business corporate cards, by replacing petty cash and shared credit cards with a Pleo employee business expense card. The card comes with individual spend limits, built-in controls, automated receipt capture and more. The card, (can be in either virtual or physical form) also helps businesses control their finances and eliminate nasty surprises with a vendor card that lets the establishments centralise and limit payments to one or a group of vendors.

The businesses, through “Business Expense Cards,” can easily adjust their spending limits or change cardholders without cancelling critical expenses like subscriptions, cloud computing or ads. Also, they get up to 1% cashback. The business leaders can set approval flows and spending limits per employee, purchase or vendor, apart from possessing the ability to create, freeze or cancel cards for team members in just a few clicks. They also get instant visibility of all company spending. Since the card is powered by Mastercard, it can be used by over 30 million merchants worldwide.

Next is Pleo’s “Expense Management System,” which helps businesses cut down the time required for preparing monthly and yearly expense reports and manual errors associated with the process. As the employees buy something using Pleo, they will be instantly asked to capture the receipt in the fintech start-up’s app.

From daily business expenses to software subscriptions, through the “Expense Management System,” companies get instant visibility of all their spending with Pleo’s reports. Apart from handling company card expenses, Pleo is also helping its clients manage their employee reimbursements, mileage, subscriptions and invoices using the same “Expense Management System.”

Another crucial component involving business spending is “Invoice Management.” Like preparing expense reports, this function is also a time-consuming one and prone to having human errors. Pleo has made the whole process an automated one.

With a dedicated invoices inbox and mobile uploads, invoices come straight to Pleo where the start-up’s OCR technology automatically populates data for the client businesses.

Pleo’s expense reimbursement software is helping finance teams to submit, approve and seamlessly process out-of-pocket expenses. The business leaders remain in control over how and when their employees are reimbursed for out-of-pocket spending.

When it comes to claiming expenses, employees have to manually add the spending details, a process that can be prone to human errors. With Pleo, the start-up’s OCR technology scans each receipt so every detail finance teams see is correct, from the date and amount to the merchant.

Solutions For Businesses Across Sizes

When it comes to simplifying the business spending game, Pleo has tailor-made solutions for businesses of all sizes. For start-ups and small businesses, the fintech venture has introduced “Smart Company Cards,” which decentralises company spending by empowering the staffers to buy what they need for work, with up to 1% cashback.

The card has also replaced lengthy reimbursements and purchase approval processes, something loved by employees and accountants alike. Pleo’s expense management processes are built to scale with the start-up’s journey. With receipts and expense data captured on the go, business leaders can rest easy knowing their expense reports are automated and completely accurate.

They will have first-hand knowledge of who is spending what and where, from daily team lunches to online software subscriptions, apart from analysing the spending by category, tags or spender to stay on track of the business budget and find new ways to optimise costs.

For big businesses, through Pleo, their finance teams can manage spending through one account, no matter how many entities/subsidiaries the parent venture has. Employees don’t need to worry about expense reports, as all they need to do is snap a photo of the receipt when spending and upload it to the Pleo app.

From digital receipt capture and automatic expense categorisation to VAT reclaim and reconciliation, Pleo is making the accounts payable process for big corporations an easy affair. Businesses are unlocking real-time insights and analytics on company spending to spot ways to save. Subscriptions, invoices, reimbursements, out-of-pocket expenses and mileage, Pleo is giving these big ventures visibility over all of their spending in one platform.

Pleo In News

Pleo, in May 2024, raised 40 million euro (USD 42 million) in debt financial from HSBC Innovation Banking, HSBC Group’s specialist financial partner arm for the innovation economy. The deal will enable Pleo to offer higher credit limits to more customers and increase flexibility in the financial options available to them.

Pleo’s overdraft facilities are already in use across Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom, as well as the venture’s native Denmark. With the latest funding, the start-up hopes to drive further growth across Europe, with a market launch in the Netherlands on the cards, where Pleo will roll out its overdraft facilities in the coming days.

“The need for services such as those provided by Pleo has been on the rise amid a protracted cost-of-living crisis, with more SMEs needing overdraft capabilities to stay afloat and complete payments. Over the last six months alone, the average company has seen 6% of their total transactions fail due to insufficient funds. Now that Pleo has partnered with HSBC Innovation Banking, it will be able to alleviate this pain point for clients and boost its credibility in the markets it operates, fuelling additional growth to already impressive growth figures,” commented the FinTech Magazine.

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