Plotting the future of paperless receipts with Paypr

Paypr makes headway in the world of paperless receipts, but needs to do more.

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Paper receipts are the bane of my existence. It might seem small and inconsequential, but I actually spend a lot of time wrangling those little bits of paper.

Case in point: I fill my car with gas on a weekly basis. Every time I do so, I wave my advanced contactless credit card over the payment machine, and then have to ask the shop assistant to print out a paper receipt for me. I then scan that receipt with my phone using my favorite receipt scanning application (shout out to Receipt Bank here). The automated back end of Receipt Bank digitizes my invoice, I check it and then export it into my accounting system of choice. It's not a huge amount of effort but every invoice takes a few minutes and required another piece of paper that it shouldn't.

So I was pretty excited to hear from Paymark about their new application, the ironically named Paypr. Paymark is a big player in the payments processing space in New Zealand. The company actually processes around 75 percent of the country's electronic transactions, giving them a footprint that is sufficiently expansive to do some interesting things. Paypr, which on day one of its launch was deployed across some 140,000 payment terminals covering 80,000 businesses, is a perfect example of that.

So what is Paypr? Well, very simply, Paypr allows customers to swipe their cards at a Paymark terminal and have a digital receipt generated in real time, ready to be coded and sent into accounting software vendor Xero. Paymark is bullish on this suggesting that Paypr is the first system in the world to connect the entire payment process in digital form, from swiping your card through to inputting the expense into your accounting system.

"The fact we have paper receipts is a throwback to the old days of paper book keeping," says Paymark chief marketing officer Tim McFarlane, mirroring my own views. "These days our payments are typically digital, our expense management systems are digital, but in the middle we get given this piece of paper. It’s archaic and it comes with a real cost burden to businesses as paper receipts are lost and expensing opportunities are missed."

The great thing is that unlike other systems which seek to reinvent the payment process, Square for example, there is no requirement for businesses to change anything about their process to use Paypr -- the application is customer-focused and Paymark has done all the backend integrations to make it work. Paymark has also done the important, but often unseen, work with the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department and had their digital invoice approved as official records of expenditure up to the capped limit of... $50.

Therein lies something of a problem. It's not Paymark's fault but $50 isn't really significant -- indeed, looking at the recent history of my purchases, apart from the odd coffee meeting, they are all higher than $50. Most notably (and most annoyingly for me) my gasoline receipts are all way over this spending cap. Time for the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department to jump into the 21st Century methinks.

The other slight issue I have with this system is that it still requires a manual (albeit digital) step where I need to check an invoice within Paypr and manually send it to Xero. I'd have liked to have seen Paypr look at this simply as plumbing and automatically send invoices directly into Xero (and other online accounting solutions for that matter.)

On the positive side, Paypr supports businesses with multiple users, but unfortunately doesn't support the somewhat frequent use case of individuals who have a single credit card they use for expenses across multiple businesses.

Paypr is available for Android and iOS devices for $12 per month. That's a pretty steep amount and I suspect that, while Paypr certainly saves time, it won't get massive uptake from its potential customer base. Paypr's target customers, small businesses, are not only time poor, but they're also notoriously stringy -- it will be interesting to see how many of them actually pay for this solution.

Paypr looks promising, and is a great first step, but I'd like to see it go deeper, be more automatic and, most importantly, become cheaper. Paymark gets marks for an attempt, but could do far better.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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