As occupational fraud continues to be a problem for businesses—with nearly 3,000 cases reported in 2018 costing companies more than $7 billion—an expense management tool is available to give companies more control over employee spending and expense reimbursement.
Bento for Business is that tool, allowing businesses to offer employees physical or virtual cards that can be categorized to help with day-to-day expense management. Certain cards can be used exclusively for gas stations or lunches; with the ability to set customized spending limits, giving accounting and finance departments more visibility into exactly how much is being spent and where. An intuitive dashboard allows managers to view transaction history, initiate ACH transactions and manage cash flow in real-time.
“We’re all about control,” says Jeff Pomeroy, Vice President of Product for Bento for Business. “We offer businesses the opportunity to control how their funds are spent. And we’ve furthered the expansion of our controls at the request of our customers.”
Control isn’t just what Bento offers to its customers, it’s what they expected from a payment provider. Their ideal payment provider would allow employers to seamlessly connect a bank account, verify their customers and transfer funds—all while being covered in Bento branding.
“Dwolla delivered,” says Sean Anderson, COO of Bento for Business. “Dwolla was easy to integrate, and providing a white-labeled experience gave Bento a new level of flexibility and capabilities to integrate into the ACH Network that we couldn’t find in other providers.”
Since its founding in 2014, Bento for Business has expanded its use of Dwolla’s ACH payment API. With the initial launch of the Bento Card, employers could seamlessly connect and verify a bank account, then upload funds associated with each card.
This initial integration between Bento and Dwolla was completed in less than a month.
“Everybody wants to say they’ve built something, but the coolest technologies are usually built on top of other rails,” Pomeroy says. “We built on top of Dwolla. And what I like about Dwolla is the existing relationship with a financial institution. That’s not very easy to maintain, especially with all the complexities in dealing with banks.”
“If you want an all-in-one shop that can service the bank authentication and initiate ACH transfers, in lieu of going after these disparate parts—Dwolla is your solution.”
Bento continued to build on the Dwolla Platform, releasing Bento Pay in 2019 to enable businesses to make and receive payments to an email address. Much like with the consumer product Venmo, Pomeroy says Bento Pay only requires an email address and a dollar amount. The user initiates the transaction, causing the receiver to get an email that directs them to a secure landing page where they enter their banking information.
Once the bank account is verified, the payment is pushed via the ACH Network to their bank account, virtual or physical card.
“This is a true move from a paper check to a digital payment,” Pomeroy says. “And this can be accomplished in the same environment that they are already managing their card-spend with. Businesses test Bento Pay with one or two payments, then it becomes six, then ten. You see the adoption week over week.”
Pomeroy says what makes Dwolla so valuable to Bento is the ability to be a comprehensive solution.
“Dwolla offers simplicity where we can do everything under one API, with one team,” Pomeroy says. “If you want an all-in-one shop that can service the bank authentication and initiate ACH transfers, in lieu of going after these disparate parts—Dwolla is your solution.”
With the volume of transactions increasing—along with the size of each transaction—Pomeroy says he’s seen no degradation of the service Dwolla offers.
“Dwolla continues to operate and we can depend on Dwolla with our timelines,” Pomeroy says. “I can honestly say from the day I came in when we were doing a couple million dollars a month, to today where we are doing much more than that, Dwolla continues to operate in a great way.”
As their customer base continues to diversify, Pomeroy says so will the Bento product offerings. He says they recently added Next Day and Same Day ACH to their ACH transactions.
“When we think about NPS scores and reviews that we get, the number one thing businesses care about is the speed of the transaction,” Pomeroy says. “They know they are moving money, but they don’t understand why they have to wait for it to happen. Making that process faster is huge for us.”
Pomeroy says they will also offer an “integrated credit” feature.
“We’ve always been prepaid,” Pomeroy says. “So we’ve taken the spirit of our partnership with Dwolla and found a credit organization with the same type of approach.”
That approach, Pomeroy explains, involves transparency, communication and automation.
“With Dwolla, we’re able to service our customers in a seamless way and it’s not onerous from a legal perspective,” Pomeroy says. “Package together Dwolla’s support team and you get this meaningful difference in how we deal with customers.”
With many of their earliest customers still using the Bento platform, Pomeroy says that validates what they are marketing—which is for companies to grow in a healthy way.
“If Dwolla didn’t exist, we’d have to develop several different relationships to do what we do with Dwolla,” Pomeroy says. “We see a lot of value with Dwolla because we don’t have to use disparate parties. We can do what we do because Dwolla is offering what it does.”