- 15 May
Asto Bookkeeping App From Santander With Integrated Invoice Finance.
Interesting development over at Santander, an article in TechCrunch reveals the launch of their Asto application for freelancers and SMEs. The Asto bookkeeping app integrates the option of invoice financing into the invoice production process, in a bid to open up access to micro-financing to small, and medium sized businesses.
Asto Santander's Bookkeeping App
The article reports that "Albert" was an invoicing and expenses app - for freelancers and micro businesses, that was acquired by Santander group. Its functionality was subsequently integrated into Asto. Apparently invoices can be raised directly from the app, or they can be imported into it. The option of accessing invoice financing, against that transaction, is then presented to the customer.
Integrated Invoice Finance
Screenshots of the Asto app suggest a very simple process whereby on raising a sales invoice, the micro business or freelancer has the option to raise finance against that invoice. The screenshots show a simplistic breakdown, based on the anticipated payment date, of the finance fee for the transaction, and the amount of cash that will therefore be released to the user. It appears that the funding is the full value of the invoice, less the fee.
The pricing examples used in the screenshots may not be intended to be illustrative, and indeed they maybe completely different for other businesses. However the fees suggested by the screenshots are (I think) 1.36% for a about a months credit, and then 0.92% for a shorter period of credit (which looks like maybe c. 19 days?). If my estimates are correct, that would put the annualised fees, in the two examples, at c. 16% and 17%. That could be on the expensive side, when compared with some full turnover versions of invoice finance. It may be more competitive when compared with other selective facilities though.
It has to be said though that the flexibility to select invoices to fund is often attractive to a number of businesses (our research has suggested over a third of businesses say they would prefer this option. Therefore, those with that preference may choose to trade that added flexibility against the additional cost.
The striking thing about the app is the ease with which the customer could access selective invoice funding, on a transactional basis at the point of invoicing.