THE BASIS POINT

New Brex travel product escalates startup vs. incumbent war for credit cards & expenses

 
 

The travel and expense services war between startups and incumbents continues, and startup Brex launched the latest salvo with Brex travel. But before we get into that, let’s recap.

The latest win went to Amex’s Microsoft AI powered expense reports.

When that hit, my first reaction was “Sign me up!” and I wasn’t alone.

When Amex announced their AI expense report launch with Microsoft, they shared survey results showing what business travelers would rather be doing than their own expense reports:

– 41% would rather have a performance review
– 40% would rather have 8am Monday meetings weekly
– 40% would rather have hour-long flight delays
– 40% would rather have all-day virtual meetings

Less than a month later, Brex (sort of) answered by launching AI tools for CFOs and corporate finance teams. Julian noted here how startups like Brex can beat incumbents with cool, easy, smart software that make life easier for the teams that handle finances for companies.

And while this is cool indeed, it doesn’t win everyday employees over at all the companies. At least not like Amex’s “you no longer have to do your own expense reports” promise.

But just when Amex took the lead by appealing to the masses (picture a candidate for student body president promising no more homework), Brex played their next card (pun intended).

Just 2 weeks after winning over CFOs and finance teams, their Brex travel launch offered a win for the rest of us.

Brex travel takes a direct run at companies like Concur with very slick do-it-all-on-your-phone travel management. This includes trip booking and management tools, self-service trip changes, 24/7 agent support, and self-service trip changes.

Did I mention self-service trip changes?

I don’t know about everyone else, but most of my business trips need to be changed at least once (sometimes twice) prior to actual travel.

And there’s nothing I despise more than logging into Concur to change departure time or return date only to be reminded that all changes need to be made live. On the phone. With an agent.

For real? Can’t I just text someone?

The self-service trip change feature is enough to pique interest. And the other features are compelling enough to keep it.

Brex travel may be a real threat to incumbents like Amex and Concur.

Brex built their credit card and now corporate finance and travel businesses selling mostly to startups, and has more recently expanded to selling to larger orgs.

Startups love their cards and other tools, so it makes sense startups will love the new Brex travel suite.

But big orgs may be slow to adopt, giving incumbents like Amex and Concur time to catch up.

Do you disagree … or do you concur?

P.S. – If you’re wondering about the George Clooney artwork, there’s another competitor in this space called Expensify, and they got him to headline their user conference this May. See link 2 below for details.

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Reference:

See how Brex AI for CFOs & finance teams looks & how it helps expense reports & budgeting (TBP)

Will fintech startups that do credit cards & expenses now lose to incumbents like Amex? (TBP)

Brex announces launch of Brex travel (Brex)

Brex takes a swipe at Concur with an expansion into travel (TechCrunch)

 

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