By Steve O’Hear for TechCrunch.com
The company, which is de-cloaking this week with a pilot in East London, has built a software platform that bridges the gap between the itemised receipt data captured by a merchant’s point-of-sale (POS) system and what little information typically shows up on your bank statement or mobile banking app.
“Paper receipts are a pain, they are easy to lose, a hassle to keep hold of and a waste of resources. We think it’s insane that today we can go from using 21st Century technology of contactless payments to 100BC tech of paper receipts,” explains co-founder and CEO Matty Cusden-Ross, who was previously Revolut employee number two and the company’s CMO.
“For consumers this [is] about getting rid of paper clutter. That means making receipts easy to find, organised and saving you time across the board which delivers convenience and control. So Flux is on a mission to digitise and organise the world’s receipts”.
To be clear, this isn’t digitising paper receipts with OCR, but — by partnering with merchants, their payment processor/POS systems, and banks — making item level receipts digital in the first place. Flux’s first live integration is with EAT and Bel-Air on the merchant side, and digital-only bank Monzo. But, says the company, even though this is a very tentative first step, the opportunity is huge. That’s because there is a lot of valuable data locked up in receipts that can help merchants better understand who their customers are.
“We are… building a software layer that is agnostic to the financial institution or retailer that it plugs into,” Cusden-Ross says. “We connect retailers via a software plug-in to their point of sale and to the consumer via an integration to their mobile banking app. Flux automagically links receipts to your bank card as you pay. Receipts are stored in the same place your transactions live today, your bank statement. Just open up your bank app and you’ll find all the receipts as well as any loyalty right there, it’s seamless and intuitive”.
The mention of loyalty scheme integration is key to what’s in it for both merchants and consumers. Doing away with stamps and paper coupons saves time for staff who have to process those schemes, whilst putting a merchant’s loyalty scheme at the heart of your existing banking app may well be a much more efficient way of reaching you. Likewise, making it more convenient for you to take part in a loyalty scheme means that you are more likely to remain a loyal customer. This is all enabled by being able to access item-level receipt data linked to your bank card. Just bought your tenth coffee? A push notification will tell you the next one is on the house.
For banks, not only does Flux help to provide new functionality that could be particularly useful for business users who need to file expenses, there is also the potential to significantly reduce chargeback disputes.
Adds Cusden-Ross: “We are getting to the consumer via banks who, particularly in the Open Banking landscape, are looking for ways to increase customer engagement and reduce operational costs. Flux can help on those two things by creating personalised experiences in app and reducing costs of things like low value, high volume chargeback disputes. Those disputes are frequently caused by customers who don’t recognise a transaction in their statement and complain to their bank”.
Meanwhile, Flux, which is currently going through the Barclays accelerator run by Techstars, isn’t the only fintech going after the item level digital receipt space. Another player is Yocuda, whilst I’m hearing that all-your-cards-in-one app Curve is also eyeing up item level receipts. Undoubtedly, there will be others, thanks in part to recent EU legislation regarding a consumer’s right to access and make portable their personal data.