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Apron invoice capture
Apron

Apron goes live with invoice and receipt capture tool

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Fintech developer Apron has made its Capture tool generally available, offering accounting users the option of an end-to-end accounts payments service, from data capture to payments.

14th May 2024
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First announced on the eve of the Festival of Accounting & Bookkeeping (FAB) in March, Apron Capture is an invoice and receipt capture feature that sits alongside the developer’s existing payments product.

After undergoing beta testing since March, the company’s internally developed capture product is now fully launched and accessible to all users.

The new system joins a crowded capture market, with the likes of Dext, AutoEntry, Hubdoc and Datamolino all attempting to simplify the process of collecting and entering data into accounting software.

Designed as a standalone data entry and invoice processing tool, Apron Capture also links to Apron’s existing payments products, offering users the ability to capture, process and pay invoices in one place as an end-to-end accounts payable automation platform.

Client-first tool

Founded in 2022 as an accounts payable product, Apron has had a meteoric rise in accounting software terms, first with a seed-fund raise of £5m in June 2023, then with a £12m Series A round in September 2023.

However, Apron founder and CEO Bogdan Uzbekov told AccountingWEB that the developer has always had ambitions to broaden the product’s horizons.

“We’ve been building Capture for a long time and trying to find the right angle for the product,” said Uzbekov. “Invoice capture software isn’t new – it’s existed for at least 15 years and most firms have some kind of capture tool, unlike payments. 

“We’re positioning Apron Capture as a client-first tool to make accounting users’ lives as easy as possible,” Uzbekov continued. “We’re trying to make it frictionless for clients to submit documents by allowing things like WhatsApp submission, and frictionless for accountants to chase clients for missing documents through our workflows. It sounds simple, but simplifying the accounting workflow is anything but.”

According to Uzbekov, one of the main advantages of the Capture tool is that with invoices and payments sitting side by side in the same app, automatic reconciliations can take place. He told AccountingWEB he believes this will save accounting professionals significant time, remove the risk of payments being made twice in error, and speed up the availability of close-to-real-time data.

“Our first touchpoint with reality was the FAB show in March, where we saw a lot of demand – people instantly got the message. We announced the beta testing programme at FAB and in the first week got 200 firms on the waiting list. We now have more than 500 firms waiting for general release.”

Capture features and new functionality

The Capture tool offers users a range of methods to add documents into the system, including a designated inbound email address, mobile app, desktop drag and drop, and WhatsApp. Apron’s proprietary optical character recognition (OCR) technology then reads and processes the documents, capturing line-by-line totals, taxes and descriptions from invoices.

Trained on thousands of invoices, the system can read images rotated upside down, distinguish receipts from invoices and extract relevant information, including being able to split PDF line items for different categories and match them to ledger contacts.

For its full release, Capture has added several new features, including:

  • the option to assign tracking categories in Xero and locations and classes in QuickBooks to support larger businesses with detailed analysis
  • greater accuracy of capture with multi-document PDFs automatically being split into several documents
  • the ability to streamline processes by performing bulk actions across multiple documents (batch archive and batch edit)
  • an enhanced missing documents workflow with “uncategorised expenses” being pulled directly from QuickBooks and “unreconciled transactions” being pulled directly from Xero. 

“The beta testing programme was there to get customer feedback and understand the gaps,” Uzbekov told AccountingWEB ahead of the general release. “All those new features are reactions to what customers required in beta. 

“We had a quick takeup in beta,” he continued. “A lot of our testers brought clients into Apron Capture and used it on a daily basis. When you spend half a day in a system, little things become important. The batch actions update, for example, might seem small on the surface but huge in terms of customer impact.”

Apron Capture starts at £5 per month per client for 500 documents per client for its Starter pricing tier. Apron Capture’s Plus tier is capped at £199 per practice per month for up to 500 clients. Users of Apron’s payments product, covering payroll and suppliers, will get Apron Capture bundled in for free as part of their subscriptions. For full details visit Apron’s accountant pricing page.

New payments features incoming

Apron told AccountingWEB that shortly after the general release of Capture, it will also add new functionality to its core payments product.

This includes the ability to schedule supplier payments, with users able to choose delivery dates (a function already offered with its payroll payments) and set up delayed approvals in advance of transaction dates, with approvers and payers being sent email notifications of the next actions to take.

Users will also be able to add customisable payee references (invoice codes and numbers) to simplify reconciliations with suppliers. 

Apron also announced that to cater for the needs and workflows of all its customers, it will add a balance feature due to go live this autumn. This will enable users to pre-load their wallets with cash to allow payments to flow when bank authorisers are away and for team members to make low-value payments without accessing a bank account. 

The developer has previously operated as a walletless solution, using its own proprietary payment rails to operate.

“There are a lot of benefits to our walletless approach – there’s no account to reconcile, no need to top up and so on – and we’ll continue to be a walletless solution at its core,” explained Uzbekov. “But some people just prefer to use a holding account or wallet. They might use it as a cashflow management hack – set aside money to pay employees or suppliers. Some are just used to being able to top up and then they don’t need to interact with their bank. 

“Our end goal is to build the ultimate end-to-end accounts payable app – we want to give people options,” he continued. “We don’t want to break their workflow. Successful financial services companies have a history of giving options.”

Replies (3)

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By FactChecker
14th May 2024 21:16

I'm left wondering if these kind of articles might be more interesting if written in English rather than in the techno-babble of their founders ...
... "walletless solution", "payment rails", "a client-first tool", "a cashflow management hack", "end-to-end accounts payable automation platform"

Of course I may be in a tiny minority ... so would others like a translation that makes sense without effort?

Thanks (2)
Replying to FactChecker:
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By JustAnotherUser
15th May 2024 09:54

Explains it all in the article for the most part......

walletless solution:

There are a lot of benefits to our walletless approach – there’s no account to reconcile, no need to top up and so on ... But some people just prefer to use a holding account or wallet.

Buy snacks, money come from bank, buy snacks with your snack app, money comes from snack app wallet.. now you have 2 accounts to reconcile, need to top up and transfer money to your snack app etc etc.

Payment rails: Payment rails are the infrastructure that allows money to transfer between a payer and a payee

The rail allows money to move from one account to another.

Payment rails act as a backbone for financial transactions and include the following key components: Payment processors: Third-party entities that facilitate the transfer of funds between the payer and payee

They say proprietary but show on the website they use The Currency Cloud, this maybe the reference.

a client-first tool:

"Invoice capture software isn’t new ... unlike payments. "
"we’re positioning Apron Capture as a client-first tool to make accounting users’ lives as easy as possible"

a cashflow management hack:
set aside money to pay employees or suppliers. Some are just used to being able to top up and then they don’t need to interact with their bank.

Thanks (1)
Replying to JustAnotherUser:
avatar
By FactChecker
15th May 2024 16:51

Thanks for the interpretations (some of which I could have guessed at), but that's missing my (obviously not clearly made) point.

Which was ... at whom is such a marketing spiel aimed?

If it's only those for whom the techno-babble is second nature, then that's fine - but restricts the audience mainly to those who also are developers and those who finance them (with a smattering of the latest generation who often don't yet have budgetary control in medium+ organisations).

Outside that bubble is a wider (and far more voluminous) world of potential customers (agents and/or end-users) who may be able to work out what messages are being portrayed - but object to being made to work at extracting meaning, and so often give up.

Doesn't seem like good use of marketing effort or spend to me - but, as I said, I'm obviously not your target market.

Thanks (1)