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Apron

Apron serves up invoice capture tool to streamline accounting data workflows

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Fintech provider Apron has released a new invoice capture feature that will sit alongside its core payments product and build on the vendor’s stated ambition of becoming an ‘end-to-end accounts payable automation platform’.

12th Mar 2024
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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.

The new tool joins the likes of Dext, AutoEntry, Hubdoc and Datamolino in attempting to simplify the process of collecting and entering data into accounting software.

Submission and processing

The Capture tool offers users a range of methods to add invoices 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.

According to a statement accompanying the product release, the system has been trained on thousands of invoices, enabling it to 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.

Apron founder and CEO Bogdan Uzbekov told AccountingWEB that particular attention had been paid to the accurate capture of due dates on invoices, which according to the vendor’s accounting partners often creates the need for accountants and bookkeepers to enter and review these manually.

Once invoices and bills are captured, they are added to the payments and bookkeeping workflows in Apron. Bookkeeping entries are automatically created, which, when approved, can be published to accounting vendors with existing integrations with Apron, including Xero and QuickBooks.

This bookkeeping workflow is customisable, so users can choose whether clients or team members have permission to create or edit bookkeeping entries.

Uzbekov added that the technology can also be used for end-to-end expense management. Using the same functionality, businesses can capture out-of-pocket expenses, and approve and batch-reimburse employees, from the same platform.

Apron Capture expense pay feature
Apron

Client chase and category confirm functions

The capture tool also offers finance professionals the ability to chase outstanding documents, such as missing invoices, and clarify account categories with clients from within the platform.

Apron Capture users can comment on and query individual transactions via a messaging service within the tool, rather than by relying on spreadsheets, email chains or text messages.

Accounting professionals can add notes to clients or assign comments in batches, tagging the client as they go. The client is then notified and can drop in the missing documents or leave a comment in reply. 

Apron Capture chasing automation feature
Apron

Automatic reconciliations ‘holy grail’

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.

“Reconciliation only exists because documents and payments are managed in a separate place,” Uzbekov told AccountingWEB. “With accounting software connected, you can understand which invoice a payment relates to – even batch payments. It’s all done in one place so you don’t need to reconcile. Everything that leaves your business bank account is now in Apron. We believe this has never been done before, it’s the holy grail for finance professionals.”

Uzbekov 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.

Apron Capture: Timetable and cost

From today, accountants and bookkeepers can sign up for the Apron Capture Beta testing, available on a first-come-first-served basis, by visiting the Apron Capture sign-up page. The product is due for general release in May 2024.

Capture costs £5 per month per client, and is capped at a flat fee of £199 per practice per month, irrespective of how many clients they onboard and documents processed.

Apron told AccountingWEB that these rates are possible due to the marginal cost of Apron delivering their OCR capabilities being close to zero as it was developed in-house.

Users of Apron’s payments product, covering payroll and suppliers, will get Apron Capture bundled in for free as part of their subscriptions.

End-to-end AP automation

Founded in 2022, Apron has had a relatively 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.

Last year the developer also launched Apron Hub, a tool designed to support accounting or bookkeeping practices with multiple team members that centralises clients and tasks in a single location.

Initially launched as a payments app, Uzbekov said he’d always had a longer-term vision of the product becoming an end-to-end accounts payable (AP) automation platform.

You can find out more about Apron and its invoice capture product by visiting the Apron stand (G6) at the Festival of Accounting & Bookkeeping on 13–14 March at the Birmingham NEC. For more information or to register for your free tickets please visit the FAB website.

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