Transforming Expenses

Parthi Duraisamy, Co-founder, Alaan
Parthi Duraisamy, Co-founder, Alaan

Alaan, a UAE-based fintech, has created a multi-currency spend management platform to manage all company spend through corporate cards and automated invoice payments



Published: Mon 29 Aug 2022, 10:54 AM

Alaan, a UAE-based corporate spend-management fintech, recently announced the launch of an industry-first business cashback card. The startup previously had raised $2.5M in seed funding and built a platform enabling businesses to spend through modern corporate cards and automated invoice payments. Business customers using Alaan cards will be rewarded with up to two per cent of their spending in cash back. Alaan is an all-in-one business spending solution powered by smart corporate cards. Alaan empowers employees to buy what they need to get work done, while enabling owners and finance teams to get full control and visibility on business spend. Alaan offers businesses five key features:

  • Unlimited virtual and physical corporate cards
  • Expense management
  • Invoice management
  • Accounting integrations
  • Spend analytics

Founded in 2021 by ex-McKinsey employees, Parthi Duraisamy and Karun Kurien, Alaan aims to transform the processing of business expenses through its platform that provides employees with business cards to make company purchases and automatically reconciles spending in real-time.

Additionally, Alaan instantly issues virtual cards for e-commerce transactions, SaaS subscriptions, vendor payments or in-store purchases. These cards can be set up with daily or monthly spend limits and can be merchant-locked to be used only with certain merchants such as fuel stations. The platform eliminates expense reports, need for petty cash, and automates bookkeeping tasks via seamless integration with various accounting solution providers.

Philip Johnston, Co-CEO of Opontia, and an early customer of Alaan remarked “Until now, we have had to rely on debit cards, which have high FX rates and no cashback options. We look forward to scaling with Alaan cards, both to save money and to save precious time for our finance teams, so they can focus on our business instead of month-end manual expense management.”

Alaan is headquartered in Dubai and is expanding its headcount and scale in multiple markets across the Middle East.

Excerpts from the interview:

What was the need of an industry-first business cashback card?

Consumers have long had access to cashback cards in the UAE, but that has not been the case for SMEs and corporates. In many instances, SME owners use their personal credit or debit cards for business expenses. If these expenses are significant, it can create problems down the road through the loss of legal protections and difficulty in separating business and personal expenses. Additionally, it can be difficult to track VAT-recoverable purchases when they use their personal credit or debit cards for business expenses. Those are some significant reasons why business expenses should be carried out using business cards.

Currently, businesses worldwide are trying to conserve cash and cut spending due to the market conditions. Our cashback cards with cashback up to two per cent will help the UAE businesses save and, more importantly, take complete control of their business spending.

What is the role of cashback cards in managing corporate finances?

Business owners and finance teams can instantly issue Alaan cards to all their employees. Employees can use Alaan cards for e-commerce transactions, software purchases, fuel, vendor payments, or in-store purchases. These cards can be set up with daily or monthly spend limits and can be merchant-locked to be used only with specific merchants such as fuel stations. In addition, our platform eliminates expense reports and the need for petty cash while automating bookkeeping tasks via seamless integration with various accounting solution providers.

Has the brand teamed up with SMEs and corporates and what has been their feedback?

Within a week of going live, we are working with dozens of SMEs and corporates across the UAE, and we have a lot more on our waitlist waiting to be onboarded. Initial feedback has been very positive — firstly, employees love the ease with which they can do their expenses and submit their receipts seamlessly in real-time from Alaan's iPhone and Android apps. Secondly, business owners love the financial benefit of using Alaan cards for all their business expenses and saving money for their company.

For example, one of our early customers had to keep track of more than 30 employees who had business expenses daily and had to be reimbursed frequently. Implementing Alaan has not only made the finance team's life much easier but also has helped them empower their employees with physical and virtual cards and giving them the freedom to make business-related purchases. As a result, they have immediately started saving hours of time savings not having to do expense reimbursements.

— ali@khaleejtimes.com


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