For many employees in the West, if you want to make a business purchase, you can either just use the corporate credit card or just bring in an invoice and file for reimbursement. However, those who work at company registered in China will have to go through the tedious and long process of printing out a fapiao (单位发票, corporate invoice).

Knowing the pain of making reimbursement, some Chinese companies have tackled reimbursement service. Current players include Hongju Technology(红橘科技) and Yikuaibao (易快报).

On March 6th, one-stop business trip and expense management SaaS platform Cloud Helios (汇联易) announced the receipt of RMB 50 million RMB series B financing from its previous investors SBCVC, Blue Lake Capital and Z Capital.

The Shanghai-based startup is a subsidiary of Hand China, an IT consulting firm. Started as a research and development project of Hand China in August 2016, the company landed RMB 30 million Series A in September which was jointly funded by Blue Lake Capital, SBCVC and Hand China. Hand China invested RMB 9 million, with a 51% controlling stake.

The app connects supervisor, finance departments, and staff (reimbursement initiator) to process reimbursement on employee’s business activities related to transportation, accommodation, meals. The app also helps on the enterprise cost budgeting, corporate expense control, employee reimbursement, invoice review, and financial system integration.

Cloud Helios app (Image Credit: 36kr)

So how does it work? The employee can directly input the reimbursement on the mobile phone, then the form is delivered to the supervisor. After approval, the employee can enter the bill submission. Then the finance person can go through financial check-up session. For each payment made by an employee, an automatic reimbursement claim will be generated. The scary thing here is that the supervisor can control the overall reimbursement of employees, and check where the employee spent money on.

In 2017, the company currently has 119 new clients, including internet giants Didi, Ctrip, JD, and Meituan-Dazhong Dianping (aka Xinmeida). In the past 19 months, the company handled 300,000 reimbursement documents in total, of which the plane ticket amount exceeded RMB 200 million. Huilianyi, the core of the product, connects enterprise consumption with the internal and external reimbursement processes.

Based on an SaaS model, client companies can register their employees on the app by paying annual subscription fee of RMB 216 per account. Only when the company has registered its employees, one can register in an app. In other words, a user cannot register individually, and his/her company has to register them, then let their employees login. The company also provides other financial office automation systems and receives a service fee.

CEO of Cloud Helios, Zhang Changzheng (Image Credit: Cloud Helios)

The service is customized to each company since all the companies have different spending patterns and use different services. For example, a client company might use Ctrip and Didi, while other client company doesn’t. So Cloud Helios sends a person to the client company to talk to their finance person to optimize product features and details to make a customized reimbursed SaaS product for the client company. The B2B company currently has 130 people, of which 50 people are dedicated to this customization. While it takes six months to complete this process for their competitors, CEO Zhang Changzheng said it takes 1-2 months on average.

“We want apply forefront technologies such as business intelligence forecasting, big data mining and AI to enterprise business trip and reimbursement scenarios,” Zhang remarked.