Whether it’s at a restaurant, after a weekend with friends, or even among tenants of a shared house, dividing bills and calculating how much each person owes can be a tedious and manual process, especially when there are a large number of people involved.
To simplify the process, several expense management platforms have appeared on the market in recent years, providing a seamless way to manage shared expenses quickly and transparently. To attract and retain customers, there must be differentiators that separate one application from another.
For Jonathan Fallon and Guillebert de Dorlodot, co-founders of the Brussels-based expense management company Tricount, what sets them apart from other industry players is the neutrality they offer customers when it comes to banks and financial institutions from which customers can make payments.
So while other spending apps may be tied to specific banks or payment systems, Tricount is agnostic: “What we try to do at Tricount is to stay as open and neutral as possible. You don’t need to be a consumer of Bank X to use our platform,” Fallon told PYMNTS in an interview.
Today, the business, which launched in 2010 and is now profitable, has amassed a customer base of over 5.2 million registered users across Europe – France, Spain, Germany, Belgium and Italy – allowing them to distribute invoices among group members, classify expenses by entering and reimbursing outstanding balances via integrated payment methods.
To further widen the gap between Tricount and its competitors, the Brussels startup now allows users – starting with Belgium – to authorize one-click payments directly from their bank accounts without the need to share IBANs. This is facilitated by an open banking partnership with Mastercard, the European digital bank licensed by Aion Bank and Vodeno, a provider of banking services as a native cloud service.
“The [partnership] the opportunity connects us to the open banking ecosystem which is made easy in Europe by PSD2 [the revised Payment Services Directive]explained Fallon, adding that the goal is to fully launch the solution in collaboration with Belgian banks before rolling it out to its other markets over time.
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Beyond payment initiation
Even though open banking came into effect across Europe in 2019, it remains a relatively new concept in the region. It has also created a number of legal and technical challenges that Fallon says need to be addressed by FinTechs like Tricount venturing into the banking world for the first time.
But despite these hurdles, he said open banking has much more to offer than just launching payment for reimbursement of expenses, and can also offer many other features to users, such as credit offers. .
Fallon used the example of a group of ten travelers who might apply for a Tricount credit loan to cover their airfares, then distribute the costs among the group later in their Tricount account.
See also: Mastercard: service expenses are making a comeback
“These are possibilities that could be offered directly by open banking,” he noted. “That’s not what we’re doing today, but we see it as a first step into a sea of opportunity.”
Going forward, the co-founders said they will continue to strengthen the app’s social dimension, going beyond the standard push notification users receive when a transaction is created by a group member, to include features that allow feedback on transactions and interactions between users in a group.
Along with this need to broaden the social lens of its business, the company will also continue to leverage PSD2 integration to exploit new opportunities in the area of spend management.
As Fallon said, “The social aspect is really for growth and retention, but when it comes to the open banking facet, we think that’s where the business opportunities lie.”
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