Certify acquires Abacus’s real time expense management solution

Last month, expense management software company Certify announced the acquisition of Abacus. Certify itself was recently purchased by K1 Investments and merged along with a portfolio of spend management solutions which included Nexonia, ExpenseWatch and Tallie. It was almost one year ago that Certify acquired a corporate online booking tool platform from nuTravel. K1 has $125M of equity in their expense management portfolio before the additions of Abacus and the nuTravel booking tool.

The Abacus acquisition will increase Certify’s client base by 10% to about 11,000 enterprise customers. In 2014 Concur publicly stated having 23,000 customers globally and that number might have reached 30,000 since the SAP acquisition.

What is real-time expense reporting? Abacus uses a rather unique way to process expenses. Employees are encouraged to submit expenses as-they-happen unlike traditional solutions that encourage users to bundle all expenses into a single report. Managers then see the expenses for their approval in real-time in what Abacus calls Live Reports – “customizable reports you can review and approve expenses by location, by project, by employee or dollar thresholds, or any other criteria you want.” Abacus calls the traditional report based process a bottleneck to the visibility of spend as it happens. As such, the pricing model is based on active user and not per report submitted. Pricing is structured at two levels, $9 and $12 per user, and custom pricing for larger organizations. Most companies average just above 1 ‘report’ per month per employee, if you are trying to make a comparison then a review of your own historical data should be easy to calculate.

They define ‘active user’ as anyone that has submitted an expense during a given month. Since users are submitting individual expense transactions, and not whole reports, you might expect to see a modest program cost increase depending on your user behaviors.

Abacus has a heavy marketing focus on recruiters that need to quickly reimburse candidates for interview related expenses as the platform can make direct deposits into a candidate’s bank account within 2 business days. Interestingly, Abacus offers direct deposit reimbursements as a free service while this generally comes at a cost with Concur Pay.

Slack integration with Abacus allows employees to submit expense and draft expense reports directly within Slack. Abacus’ platform learns a user’s behavior and then make automated expense ‘suggestions’ for spend categories, vendor names and more. Both Slack and AI based ‘suggestions’ adds features that compete with those of Concur. However, configurations of policy controls appear intuitive for companies that need to manage T&E spend without dedicating full time resources with specific platform domain knowledge.

Another distinction between Certify and Abacus is the global footprint. Abacus is available only in English and while it can accept other currencies the reimbursement process is in USD. Certify supports 50+ languages and 130+ currencies.