Choosing the Right Expense Management app for your Tax obligations in 2017
We looked at 5 popular apps to manage expenses: (1) Shoeboxed, (2) Receipt Bank, (3) Expensify, (4) Tallie and (5) IQBoxy. We tested each to see how well they performed their core function--Collection and identification of receipts. If you want to skip ahead, the Summary finding are right at the bottom in the Conclusion section. Or keep on reading to see how we tested, what we looked for and why.
What we looked for
- 1. PRIVACY: Most hacks happen through “Dumpster diving” -- someone going through your personal information to trick people (say bank manager) into breaking normal security procedures (social engineering). It is one of the greatest threats that organizations today encounter. Identities are stolen this way and your data accessed. Therefore you need to trust that your app isn’t exposing your personal data to any humans. Unfortunately we found that the companies behind the tested apps rely on manual outsourced labor (to cheaper countries) for the purposes of reviewing & editing your receipt data. If you are relying on such apps to store your medical bills then be warned, your personal identifiable information is now vulnerable too! Major red flag.
- 2. REAL-TIME: When you engage with an app you want immediate response. Imagine uploading a photo to share on facebook and waiting a few minutes to share it with your friends. Annoying, right? Slow stalls you. Just like waiting around for receipt to process gives one little confidence that (a) the receipt will not be lost and (b) that you can throw away your original paper receipt.
- 3. MOBILE EXPERIENCE: Your smartphone is a computer in your pocket. If you are investing in an app you want it to have a pleasant mobile end-to-end experience. If you need to use a desktop to finish something you started on your phone then that’s a broken experience. In many finance apps, we noticed difficulty in abstracting a spreadsheet into a mobile screen hence the broken end-to end experience.
- 4. DATA: The data on your receipt is valuable. It is Gold. Especially when converted to text it can be searchable, editable and pushed to your cloud accounting software. The piece of technology which allows this is called Optical Character Recognition (OCR) with some magic sauce to help OCR produce quality results. Unfortunately many apps we tried butchered this process.
- 5. INTELLIGENCE: Machine learning is fast becoming a hot topic because it is enabling people to be more efficient with their time by letting intelligent machines do the tedious tasks. Machines can process information with more precision and much faster than humans. This means machines scale, humans do not. This is the direction we believe all bookkeeping apps should be heading to truly automate the entire process for the end user. How do you know if your app is using machine learning? (a) The apps gets better over time in identifying elements on your receipt and (b) real-time processing; machines are fast.
Want to see some Intelligence at work?
- Install IQBoxy (it's free)
- Grab a Receipt with a Retailer logo and Scan it
Summary of Findings
Now you know what to look out for in your next bookkeeping app. Here is what we found in our review of 5 apps. Yes the last one was our own ;-) No fluff here. Just pure data. In the video links below you can see the timer used to measure speed and also the outcome of each scan to identify its ability to read the base receipt. If we missed something in our tests please let us know.
- Overall Tallie appears to be trying to solve machine processing. 33 seconds to process a receipts is fast but not the fastest or the most accurate of the lot. However Tallie’s hidden minimum fee of $50 is deceptive and not seen in any of the other apps.
- User experience wise, Expensify is doing a good job in providing a clean experience but somewhat limited on the mobile device experience side falling back on their desktop web version. Pricing is fair too. We enjoyed using Expensify.
- Unfortunately for Shoeboxed and Receipt bank, both shared the same slow user experience, confusing interfaces and riddled with bugs making it very hard to win hearts. Not to mention Shoeboxed and Receipt Bank price points are extremely high for the service they provide. This is a side effect of manual labor for processing receipts.
Comparison Videos - see it for yourself
- Shoeboxed vs IQBoxy (video)
- Receipt Bank vs IQBoxy (video)
- Expensify vs IQBoxy (video)
- Tallie vs IQBoxy (video)
What is IQBoxy
IQBoxy helps you track, analyze and report on business spending. IQBoxy is a Mobile & Watch app which uses machine learning and real-time OCR to automate your expense management with seamless QBO, Saasu & Xero integration.
IQboxy was founded by software engineers with financial services backgrounds. We set out to change the fact that all of the existing solutions in the marketplace today inefficiently deploy human labor behind spreadsheets in the cloud. IQBoxy is a 100% machine automated mobile-first platform combining machine learning with our secret sauce and a sprinkle of OCR. This provides a pleasant real-time user experience built on fast processing speeds that business owners should demand in this day and age.
We hope you like IQBoxy because we’re just getting started. Our product road map for 2017 takes us deep into truly automating the whole bookkeeping process. Feel free to join us so that you too can enjoy the ride!
Your friends @IQBoxy Team