Last week Crunchbase posted an interesting article on Zestful, a fintech startup that aims to use an API-driven solution to streamline employer benefit claims. The article highlighted that many employers offer reimbursement-based benefits, such as “gym class reimbursement, mental health services, and access to discounted or free entertainment” but that “benefits go unused due to lengthy and tedious reimbursement processes, antiquated software, and convoluted rules.”
This problem is not confined to employer benefits. Lots of industries that have to manage complicated reimbursement and disbursement processes could use APIs to streamline their systems and enhance the experience of their customers or employees. Here are a few examples:
Airlines often issue vouchers for food and accommodation to compensate for delays, cancellations and travel disruptions. These vouchers are often paper slips, which passengers must wait in long lines to collect from outnumbered and overstressed airline personnel. When passengers incur costs personally and must file with the airline for reimbursement, the process is even more harrowing and often means manually typing in information and uploading receipts through clunky online portals and waiting weeks, if not months, for claims to be evaluated and funds disbursed via paper check. Think of the time that would be saved if credits could be disbursed directly and instantly to customers’ cards.
Retail and Consumer Products
Vouchers and coupons handed out by retailers are typically attached to mile-long receipts that are inconvenient to save. Redeeming shopping credit often requires the shopper upload receipts to the company’s website manually after the transaction occurs in order to receive a printable gift certificate. How much easier would it be if the retailer was able to collect the shopper’s data (with their permission) at the point of sale and then disburse the credit to their card in real time?
Travel and Expenses
Similar hurdles exist in reimbursements for employee travel and business expenses. Any employee who has spent hours sifting through a pile of receipts, only to have accounting send the report back a week later, understands these pains. Imagine a world in which companies could approve spending ahead of time and push approved funds to an employee’s company card instantly at the moment they need to spend the money. What if a company was able to use machine learning to automatically categorize and approve expenditures on an employee’s card and then reimburse them in real time? There are innovative companies creating solutions like this and seamless funds disbursement is central to these offerings.
Insurance is another industry begging for disruption in claims processing and disbursement. Digital disruptors like Hippo, MetroMile and Lemonade are making strides in this area, but incumbents have catching up to do to remove the headache of filing claims and receiving claims disbursements.
Across industries, companies dealing with reimbursements and claims have a common characteristic: they require the right combination of technology and payments solutions to optimize operations and meet customer demands for a simple and seamless experience.
Across industries, companies dealing with reimbursements and claims have a common characteristic: they require the right combination of technology and payments solutions to optimize operations and meet customer demands for a simple and seamless experience. As Open Platform’s Head of Product, Susan French, said in one of our earlier posts, “Consumers have been trained by Google and Apple and others to expect seamless, easy to use, clear, simple interactions…and they expect payments to just kind of happen magically.” Reimbursements, claims and vouchers are no exception.
As companies innovate reimbursement and disbursement operations, access to payments APIs, like Open Platform’s Move Money API, that enable companies to push funds to customers and other companies in real time and as a native part of their experience will be crucial.
Industries built around funds reimbursement and disbursement are ripe for disruption and we’re excited to be part of the next wave of innovation.
Have some disruptive ideas of your own? Get in touch. We love hearing from you.
–The Open Platform Team