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Concur is finally rolling out its ExpenseIt app to
large customers in the United Kingdom. The product translates photographed
receipts into expense-claim line items, and adapting it for Europe took two
years longer than expected.
ExpenseIt launched in the United States in August
2013 and has debuted subsequently in two other English-language markets: Canada
and Australia. Concur said 25 percent of its clients use the app and 160,000
users have processed more than 6 million receipts since launch. Rollout in the
United Kingdom, Concur's largest European market, was slated for the third
quarter of 2014, but a tool that works well in the United States has taken much
longer to adapt to the complexities of multinational Europe.
"We needed to perfect the optical character
recognition," said Scott Torrey, Concur executive vice president and EMEA general
manager. "In the U.S., receipts are fairly standardized," but not in
Europe. Language is by no means the only issue. "Things like dashes and
colons can confuse the technology," said Torrey, as do handwritten
receipts, which remain prevalent among taxi and restaurant suppliers in several
European countries, including Germany.
Concur said in a written statement to BTN that ExpenseIt "reads receipts
in most countries and is still learning." Torrey added that launches
elsewhere in Europe will follow once United Kingdom-based users are
experiencing high success rates, both domestically and abroad. Getting the recognition
technology right is in the mutual interest of both Concur and its customers. "If
OCR doesn't do it, our office in Manila does, so that's more work for us,"