Stressing out and wondering how to manage expenses on the road had been off my radar for a while. Thanks to COVID-19, I hadn't been overseas since 2019, and I felt a bit rusty ahead of my trip to Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress (MWC) last week.
Luckily for me, there wasn't much to think about regarding my own expense management since I joined Payhawk in 2021. I could manage expenses and make payments related to my trip with the swipe of a card and the touch of a button. It meant a huge weight was off my shoulders as I could get on with my job — creating content — without worrying about saving paper receipts and checking that my personal funds could cover any costs.
Before I even set off for the event, my team and I worked with a creative agency to support us with some video content for the stand. They sent me an invoice for the work, and I uploaded it to the Payhawk solution and chose a category for it in order for it to sit under the correct budget. The OCR software pulled all the data from the PDF invoice, and I simply checked the amount, and I was done in seconds.
Next, I booked my flights with my company card. The Payhawk card, connected to our software, immediately recognized my payment. Then I added the digital receipt from the airline, chose the category to provide visibility of spend (resulting in automated expense reports at the end of the month), and I was done in seconds.
Finally, when I was on the road, I bought a coffee to help with the early start. I paid with my card and asked for a receipt. I opened the Payhawk app, took a photo of the receipt, chose the spend category, and was done. Again, the OCR eliminated any data entry on my part and on the part of the finance team, and it took seconds.
All in all, my expenses took less time than it did to find my passport at the airport.
We had a busy time at our stand. It looked terrific, and the rest of the team was busy getting people excited about solving business finance and expense headaches at their respective companies.
Here's where I honestly felt a little surprised by the people we met. Considering we were at the MWC, the absolute cutting-edge of digital and mobile technology, we met literally hundreds of people whose businesses were still managing expenses manually and without visibility.
The conference's theme was Connectivity Unleashed, and there were sessions on AI, CloudNet, and 5G Connect. Meanwhile, there were stands and presentations equipped with robots, simulation rides, AI experiences, giant interactive LED displays and more robots. But still, at this event which offered a glimpse into the future — so many companies were living in the past.
We asked, how did you pay for your MWC ticket? How did you pay for your plan or train here? And the answer was overwhelmingly: personal cards.
People we spoke to used personal cards with an inevitable company reimbursement. But only once they'd submitted all their receipts and the finance team had checked them.
Most people said that collecting receipts and updating a spreadsheet with all relevant information to pass on to their finance teams was the most annoying thing. As well as complicated processes via legacy systems to ask for additional funds.
Demonstrating our software helped many people see how they could potentially reimagine expense management headaches at their organizations.
The meteoric rise of fintechs was a key theme for MWC. From blockchain and NFTs to security and payment innovations, there was much discussion around the future of finance.
The MWC website reads that "the mobile ecosystem is the heartbeat of fintech, and MWC Barcelona is a natural home to explore this." And when I think about my experience planning for and traveling to the event, this statement rings true. My boarding pass at the airport was on my phone, the health form QR code I needed to share was on my phone, I booked a taxi on my phone.
As company card users, travelers, and employees, it makes sense to use an app to manage our expenses. It's convenient, secure, and effortless.
Once I touched down back in London and kicked my shoes off at home, I had a chance to reflect on my trip compared to work trips I'd taken pre-Payhawk. I didn't have to hunt in my luggage for receipts and fill in mountains of paperwork explaining each payment. Instead, I could plan our next content piece using footage from the event and spend time with my family.
Our finance team was happy, too; they didn't need to chase anyone for receipts or ask for explanations — it was all right there in the tool already.
If you'd like to learn more about offering your team easy expense management on the road, book a demo. Or, if you'd like to learn more about supporting your finance team with accounting, spend transparency, and month-end, click here.
Trish Toovey works across the UK and US markets to craft content at Payhawk. Covering anything from ad copy to video scripting, Trish leans on a super varied background in copy and content creation for the finance, fashion, and travel industries.