Quit Scrounging Up Receipts at Tax Time

A fast-growing Canadian start-up has a digital solution for small businesses and freelancers looking to cut down on messy admin work.

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For freelance workers, tax time can be an unnecessarily messy and frustrating experience where crumpled up receipts and scattered invoices are gathered, organized, and processed manually. This growing body of the workforce is often overburdened by this additional administrative workload.

Sensibill is a financial tech startup that provides a “digital basket” for your receipts that connects with your mobile banking app. Thanks to machine learning technology, users can simply snap a photo of any purchase receipt and the full line item details of the transaction will be stored in their bank account.

Tech like this is a boon to several different groups, but it’s especially targeted towards small businesses and freelancers. Over half of freelancers cite the extra admin work as an obstacle to growth, close to one-third were unable to benefit from tax claims because of lost receipts, and upwards of 80 hours a year could be spent on sorting through expenses to separate personal from business.

With Sensibill, users need only snap a photo of a receipt once it’s in their hands, and the details of their expenses are then automatically processed and conveniently stored in one place which saves them the hassle of sifting through a mound of small papers at the end of the year.

For the banks, it’s important to keep innovating via user experience features like this so they can compete with independent platforms like Wealthsimple. The purchasing data obtained from receipt history can also provide insights that help banks personalize their marketing campaigns for financial products toward users.

Sensibill established relationships with all five of the big Canadian banks early on, and they are in the process of negotiating similar arrangements with institutions in the US and the UK. The company assists around 10 million users and has raised over $50 million in funding so far.

Receipt extraction software

Sensibill’s Receipt Extraction platform takes data from receipts via a process called optical character recognition. The software can read all the unique elements of the receipt and understand the value of each item, be they taxes, prices, or discounts.

All of the data points from the newly digitized receipt are categorized and filed in the app so everything is clear when reviewing. If you’re wondering what you purchased at the supermarket last month, simply open your banking app and click the link for that particular receipt. Even better, if there was an issue and you need a refund or return, these digital receipts can be scanned in-store.

The platform makes it easy to organize documents as either personal or business expenditure, which saves hours and hours of admin work down the line. There’s also an export feature that makes it straightforward to create expense reports and file taxes.

“We’re helping champion the future of work,” said CEO Corey Gross to TechTalent. “That means supporting small business owners, freelancers, and entrepreneurs – they’re the fastest growing segment and the most underserved by banks.”

Integration with SKU-level data

One of the best features of Sensibill is its integration with Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) level data. This is the scannable bar code you’ll see on product labels, and it allows vendors to track the movement of inventory. Some receipts only print a fragment of the product title, so it’s not obvious what the item is, but the SKU can tell us.

This is handy for consumers so they know what it was they spent their money on, but it’s also important for the banks: “To provide strong service in today’s environment, we must understand our customers on a deeper level,” commented Randy Tidwell from Progress Bank, a partner institution, to Business Wire.

“The SKU-level data delivered by Sensibill will help us uncover new details about our customers’ behaviours, preferences, and probable financial needs. We expect these tools to help us strengthen digital engagement and drive loyalty.”

No. 65 of the top 400 Canadian companies

Sensibill ranked #65 in the Globe and Mail’s list of the top 400 companies owing to the success of their technology and three-year revenue growth of 800%. The group continues to expand upon their offering with new features that include the ability to send all digitized receipts to an individualized mailbox set up through their bank so as not to clutter the user’s primary inbox.

“What we’ve been able to accomplish over these past seven years has been tremendous; I couldn’t be prouder of our technology and team,” said COO Izabella Gabowicz in a press release. “We’re using alternate, contextual data to make banking more meaningful and valuable in consumers’ and businesses’ everyday lives – a task that’s never been so critical.”

 

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Barry is a journalist, editor, and marketer for several media outlets including HeadStuff, The Media Editor, and Buttonmasher Magazine. He earned his Master of the Arts in Journalism from Dublin City University in 2017 and moved to Toronto to pursue a career in the media. Barry is passionate about communicating and debating culture, science, and politics and their collective global impact.