- Brex, the corporate card for startups, is integrating with expense-management giant SAP Concur and accounting software Xero as it aims to grow alongside its customers who are maturing out of the startup segment and looking for enterprise-grade solutions.
- For Brex, it’s also a step toward competing with Amex over larger customers.
- Amex also has a corporate card for startups that it launched in October last year. And fellow fintechs Divvy and Ramp are also competing with Brex in the startup space.
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Brex, the corporate card for startups, is taking another step on its journey to unseat incumbents like American Express through new partnerships with established expense-management platforms.
SAP Concur, the business management and software giant owned by SAP, and accounting software Xero have both partnered with Brex to allow the startup to integrate into their platforms.
SAP Concur’s products are used by businesses like Kellogg’s, Lyft, and Salesforce to help manage travel, expenses, and invoices. New Zealand-based Xero offers accounting software for small and medium-sized business.
Founded in 2017, Brex has historically been known as the ‘startup for startups,’ building a corporate card and expense-management product meant to serve young, fast-growing companies. But as its customers grow, Brex has to grow, too.
And it’s all part of an effort to ensure that Brex can serve more than just startups.
“Brex can now, with Concur, work with much larger and enterprise-level customers,” Henrique Dubugras, Brex’s cofounder and co-CEO told Business Insider.
For SAP Concur, the partnership with Brex marks the end of a 12-year exclusive arrangement with Amex. However, SAP Concur and Amex remain partners as well.
The two sides recently extended their relationship with a focus on “co-innovation through integrations with SAP Concur solutions and American Express’s B2B payment capabilities, the American Express Business Card Program, and American Express Go,” Valerie Blatt, business head and general manager, global SMB for SAP Concur told Business Insider via email.
Read more: POWER PLAYERS: Meet 11 American Express execs leading the card giant’s digital payments and small-business lending push
SAP Concur’s partnership with Brex is also not exclusive to the startup. As part of the new agreement, SAP Concur can more broadly work with other banks and payment providers.
“This enables our customers to use the bank or card of their choice to make supplier and vendor payments in a way that’s most efficient for their business,” Blatt said.
Specifically, in regards to working with Brex, the agreement allows SAP Concur to deepen its relationships with startups.
“As with many of our partnerships, we share mutual customers that we would like to better service together to improve the user experience. Brex’s platform also allows its customers to access credit on day one of establishing their business, which has allowed them to grow quickly in the start-up market,” Blatt said. “This integration gives us the opportunity to service this segment and provide our solutions to help them manage and grow their business.”
Brex wants to compete with Amex at an enterprise level
For larger companies, the corporate-card market has historically been dominated by incumbents like Amex and Chase.
But those services are largely cater toward big businesses, not startups, Dubugras said.
“I think Amex was built for the businesses of the past, the businesses that grew in the last couple of decades, and I think Brex is being built for the businesses of the future,” he said.
Read more: The inside story of how $3 billion Brex went from raising $150 million to slashing staff in just 10 days. Here are the execs who are out, and what’s next for the fintech.
Brex has made waves with its current model targeting startups. The fintech was last valued at $3 billion, and has raised $300 million in debt financing and $465 million in equity financing to date from investors including DST Global, Global Founders Capital, and Kleiner Perkins.
Though Brex hasn’t been immune to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. In May, it cut 17% of its staff as spending slowed across its startup client base. Part of Brex’s revenue comes from fees earned every time a customers spends with their Brex-powered card. When startups tighten spending, Brex earns fewer fees.
For Brex, the push for these integrations came from an existing need among its clients who have grown and now are seeking the ability to link their Brex experience with more mature software like SAP Concur and Xero.
“The Concur integration is one of the things we’re working on toward the goal of Brex of being able to scale with our customers,” Dubugras said.
Brex has long named Amex as one of its top competitors. And these new integrations with SAP Concur and Xero means that Brex and Amex could be competing for the same segment of enterprise clients. Dubugras said Brex already has a couple thousand enterprise clients, and expects the SAP Concur integration will help it add a few hundred in the third quarter of this year.
See more: A startup that’s raised $25 million from Keith Rabois and Coatue is going up against $2.6 billion Brex and pitching itself as the Honey of corporate cards
But Amex doesn’t just serve enterprises. In October last year, it launched a corporate card geared toward startups. Amex’s program is invite-only, but it employs similar underwriting models to Brex, looking at a startup’s business bank account as opposed to looking at the credit history of the founder(s), which is how many startups and small businesses are traditionally evaluated.
Beyond Amex, Brex is also competing with fintechs like Divvy and Ramp, both of which offer expense management and corporate cards for small businesses and startups. Ramp, for one, was nominated as an early-stage fintech to watch by investors surveyed by Business Insider.
“[Ramp is a] real challenger to Brex in the corporate card space, but focused on larger growth-stage companies with larger cash balances but serious about saving money — particularly relevant in this post-Covid recessionary market,” DCM’s Kyle Lui told Business Insider in July.
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