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Expense Magic for iPhone: Taking the sting out of expenses with photo receipts

We’re very very lazy when it comes to getting our expenses up together. There comes that crucial deadline at the end of the month where all those train tickets, cab cards and receipts need to be stapled to an Excel print out with everything correctly dated and totalled up and so on.

Depending on how busy our month has been it can take a good hour or two out of a working day, time we’d rather spend… working or, well, doing anything really. Petting a cat or changing guitar strings.

Thank crikey for Expense Magic then, the product of a London-based start-up that’s going to make our end of month expense can-I-be-bothered-no-but-I’d-really-like-the-money quandary easier. What a pampered and decadent generation we are.

Expense Magic’s main wow factor is that is allows you to take pictures of receipts and tickets that you then upload to the cloud.

All of the relevant info (i.e. the total price, the time, VAT) is collected and everything is totalled up for you. Instead of using character recognition software, Expense Magic’s service is manned by a team of book keepers, who handle and process your expenses.

The process of submitting an expense normally takes a couple of hours. If you get into the habit of taking a picture of an expense as you go, then you’ll avoid that mad end of the month scramble to find bits of folded up paper.

You can tag pictures with notes, making things easier for the people in Accounts to manage (i.e. ‘Receipt for train journey to London Waterloo’) and enter events that have been stored in your iPhone’s calendar (‘Meeting at London offices’ etc).

Credit where it’s due

Submitting an expense costs a single token. Tokens are are available to buy at £2.99 for a bundle of 20 as an in-app purchase. You get five tokens to start you off and some free ones can be earned by referring friends to the service via email.

Note that this pricing structure only applies if you’re submitting a picture to Expense Magic’s team; they call this ‘Adding an Expense Magically’.

When we spoke to Expense Magic co-founder Adam O’Kane, he told us that if an image is too blurry for the book keeping team to make out, or some information is missing/cut off from the picture (i.e. if you’ve not got the whole of the receipt in the viewfinder) then you won’t be charged for any pictures that are ineligible.

Whichever way you choose to enter your expenses, Expense Magic can be configured to create and send a report for any day of the month (in a CSV and ZIP file) making it perfect for sending over to your company’s accounts.

When you set up a date to automatically generate a report, you’ll have the option of getting everything sent to accounts@yourcompany.com as well as your email address.


Branching out

We were also told that there’s a dedicated Expense Magic service for businesses. Using the same Expense Magic app, a company can sign in with a single admin log in and manage multiple employee accounts at the same time. To set this service up though, you’ll need to contact Expense Magic directly.

Though Expense Magic is only available for iPhone at the moment, we understand that Android and BlackBerry versions of the app are in the pipeline, with a view to a future roll out to Windows Phone 7 and all other platforms.

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