Swiss spend management specialist Yokoy is on an expansion spree. After launching in Austria and Germany less than a year ago, the startup is already planning to conquer new markets, Yokoy co-founder and CMO Melanie Gabriel told Fintech News Switzerland in an interview.
“This year, we have established branches in Germany and Austria,”
“Soon, other European countries will follow and we are also thinking about expanding intercontinentally. The aim is for people to think of Yokoy first when they hear the keyword spend management.”
Founded in 2019 as Expense Robot, Yokoy uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automate spend management for medium and large enterprises, combining expense management, supplier invoice management and smart corporate cards into one platform.
Yokoy is targeted at companies with high special requirements when it comes to security, user administration, the mapping of complex workflows, standardizations and integration, Gabriel said, noting that the AI-powered system is able to capture accounting documents in all major languages and in almost all writing systems.
“These companies have a diverse software environment into which Yokoy has to be integrated, and we are able to do that,”
“Our software is prepared to exchange information with standard business software. All standard interfaces and the products of all important providers, including SAP, are supported.”
AI plays a key role in Yokoy’s spend management software, allowing for automation, improved efficiency and reduced risks. Hence, expertise in AI is one of the startup’s core competencies, Gabriel said.
“It’s not just about digitizing an expense voucher or a receipt or an invoice. Correctly recognizing the numbers and letters contained on such a piece of paper is only the beginning. Further, it is also about discovering the meaning of these characters” depending on the context, country and language, she explained.
“We have trained our AI with millions of examples. What’s more: the software can also recognize whether a booking complies with internal specifications. It can detect attempted fraud. The software is constantly being further developed, it learns new things, and it can be adapted to company-specific workflows.”
Automating corporate expense reports, approvals and reimbursements
With Yokoy’s AI-based solution, an employee simply needs to take a photo of a receipt or upload invoice to have it booked correctly into their enterprise resource planning (ERP) system (including VAT). The system then pays out the expense automatically to the appropriate person. The entire process of generating an expense report takes just three seconds, from the photo of the receipt to the financial posting, including checks, VAT reclaim, archiving and reimbursement of expenses.
The same technology is applied to supplier invoices where a user just needs to upload an invoice for the system to automatically capture and validate the invoice data, and then export it into the company’s accounting system.
Yokoy integrates with all major third-party tools and platforms, including SAP R3, S/4, BusinessOne and Business ByDesign, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and Finance and Operations, Abacus, Sage, Workday and even Uber, and also provides the free OpenAPI platform to partners and customers.
“The research shows that it costs a company around US$60 to capture and process an expense report … [which] is too high,” Gabriel said. “When a company has a lot of employees, managing expenses costs a lot. Automating these processes with the help of our software allows savings of up to 90%. Thanks to our AI software, these processes can be made more efficient and therefore cheaper.”
Not only that, but AI also allows customers to gain key insights into corporate expenses, flag irregularities and fraud, and help improve future spending by highlighting opportunities for savings.
“The Yokoy software can handle complicated accounting transactions on its own, but equally as important is its ability to work with people,” Gabriel said. “It can integrate itself into an organization and adapt to company-specific approval flows. Adaptability also extends to cooperation with other software products. The protection of privacy and the security of data are always guaranteed.”
Yokoy also comes with an accompanying corporate Mastercard that’s integrated into the expense platform, allowing for transactions to be instantly matched with expenses. The card is entirely free and currency exchanges are done on the basis on the interbank exchange rate with zero fee added.
Other features and products in the pipeline include smart physical and virtual corporate Visa cards and for European companies, and an automated subscription management platform.
Yokoy serves over 500 customers, including companies such as Swissquote, Stadler Rail, On Running, Bobst, Zühlke and BDO. The company was the winner of this year’s Growth Stage Startup of the Year at the 2021 Swiss Fintech Awards.
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