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Deprecating the Currency Conversion Surcharge

Ted Harris
Ted Harris Expensify Success Coach - Admin Posts: 340 Expensify Team
edited August 2020 in Product Updates

We've just removed our old Currency Conversion Surcharge feature, which previously allowed users to add a fixed percentage to all new foreign currency expenses.

Why did we decide to remove the feature?

  • It was used by a very small set of Expensify users, less than 0.1% of users!
  • It was built to help users ensure users were being paid back the amount they actually spent, but it didn't actually do that very well. Because the surcharge percentage was an arbitrary amount chosen by individual users, it could only ever estimate what was spent.
  • Most importantly, we have better solutions!

How can you ensure that you're tracking exactly what you spent?

  • For personal credit cards, Expensify offers two easy ways to import your transactions. View the options here.
  • For company credit cards, there are three great ways to import transactions. Learn which option is best for you here.
  • For a better, more seamless experience, use the Expensify Card! The Expensify Card will always import the correct amount and can reconcile with your accounting system automatically. Learn more!
  • Please note: If you were unable to import your card previously because we didn't have a direct connection for your bank, have no fear! We now have a CSV import option for both personal cards and company cards. Check out one of the links above for more information.

Comments

  • tkchuah
    tkchuah Expensify Customer Posts: 2 Expensify Newcomer

    Guys, i am using this because you guys do not provide / allow us to manually set the exchange rate. Using the exchange rate from the internet is a bad idea because no company in the world uses that for finance purposes. The business process is always finance department will fix a company wide currency exchange rate for buying, selling, expensing etc and review them on quaterly or half yearly basis.

  • Cheryl Walsh
    Cheryl Walsh Expensify Success Coach - Admin, Expensify Team Posts: 99 Expensify Team

    @tkchuah we always appreciate insight into how our committed customers use our product. Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

  • Ted Harris
    Ted Harris Expensify Success Coach - Admin Posts: 340 Expensify Team

    Hi @tkchuah we hear this:

    Using the exchange rate from the internet is a bad idea because no company in the world uses that for finance purposes

    Which is why our solutions for accurately tracking what you've spend use your actual banks exchange rate. Any imported card transaction will merge with a SmartScanned within a 5% margin. We're yet to come across a bank charging more than 5% for a surcharge.

    finance department will fix a company wide currency exchange rate for buying, selling, expensing etc

    Are you saying that your company will not use your banks exchange rate to your home currency, but will instead set their own - meaning your books will not reconcile with your actual bank statements?

  • tkchuah
    tkchuah Expensify Customer Posts: 2 Expensify Newcomer

    The usage for expensify is an expense reporting tools, where employee file their expense.

    When they are reporting an expense that is not in our home currency, we will give them a fixed exchange rate.

  • Kirk Barrett
    Kirk Barrett Expensify Success Coach - Admin Posts: 120 Expensify Team

    The exchange rates should still be accurate in this scenario. If you would like to have us take a look at any specific transactions, please reach out to our in app chat, or email [email protected] and we would be happy to take a look!

  • dennisg
    dennisg Expensify Customer Posts: 2

    Sorry - but but the provided solutions don't work for me. The (foreign currency) receipts are a mixed bag of personal credit card, debit card and cash. It was so powerful that only scanning the receipt was sufficient - now you're forcing your users in a lot of additional steps. BTW - the import of personal cards is not an option for me since there's only a small proportion of transactions relevant for the expenses.

  • Matt Moore
    Matt Moore Expensify Customer, Expensify Success Coach - Admin, Expensify Team Posts: 129 Expensify Team

    Hi @dennisg,

    Have you tried importing a card statement using our CSV upload tools? That way you can decide which transactions you'd like to import.

    Here's how to do it at account level, and here's how to do it at Domain level.

  • dennisg
    dennisg Expensify Customer Posts: 2

    Hi Matt - that solution won't work for me because of 3 reasons:

    • My client expects actual scanned receipts, rather than credit card statements
    • The volume of relevant transaction lines vs irrelevant lines causes a lot of overhead
    • My bank doesn't allow me to export creditcard transactions to csv.

    Again - the foreign currency mark up worked just fine for me. I don't understand that you guys just removed it. Even if only a small percentage of customers are using it, it can be an important feature for them.

    I'll consider cancelling my account because of this.

  • Victoria O'leary
    Victoria O'leary Expensify Success Coach - Admin, Expensify Team Posts: 106 Expensify Team

    Hi @dennisg

    I'm really sorry to hear that none of those solutions will work for you. It's pretty unusual that your bank won't allow you to download your credit card expenses; we find that most customers can easily access this through their Internet Banking settings. If you don't have that available, it could be worth reaching out to your bank to find out if there's another way.

    I completely understand that your client needs receipts for the purchase! When importing card expenses, you won't lose the ability to add receipts - when you SmartScan a receipt that matches the card expense, the two will merge together, ensuring you expense has an attached receipt.

    I hope that helps to give you some additional context.

  • JeffByles
    JeffByles Expensify Customer Posts: 7 Expensify Newcomer

    So your "better solutions" are importing CSV files or using your credit card? How did you come to that conclusion? This is not even a remotely acceptable alternative.

    Before: you enter the date, the factor is looked up and then it is padded with the surcharge automatically. Employees don't have to do anything and they are always happy because the surcharge margin assures they never loose money.

    Now: they will automatically loose money most of the time (from my experience and review) unless they download and browse through their CSV files. Which cant be done via phone. Great, lots more work. Can you try explaining that to a 67 year old man who I was amazed could even learn the system?

    I say return it. 0.1% but it matters alot. Your solutions are absolutely atrocious and time consuming (the whole purpose of Expensify is to avoid manual time consuming methods) and the alternative to not using it is ripping off our employees. Great.

  • Ted Harris
    Ted Harris Expensify Success Coach - Admin Posts: 340 Expensify Team

    Hi @JeffByles - you're forgetting the other solution which is manually changing the amount. This can be done in seconds on the app or on the web and it satisfy's both the employee and the business reimbursing the exact correct amount.

    If they're submitting multiple expenses, it should be as simple as importing their card or importing their CSV. Remember, they don't need to edit their Bank CSV - we'll automatically pull the correct transactions from the CSV and leave the others Unreported - thus avoiding manual time consuming methods like you say!

  • JeffByles
    JeffByles Expensify Customer Posts: 7 Expensify Newcomer
    edited October 2020

    @Ted Harris I gave it a shot and despite being in the sites tutorial on how to add Banks, CIBC (for example and other Banks including TD, Royal Bank, BMO) are not available. Which means, I have to upload a spread sheet. Maybe they will eventually be developed enough to offer this functionality. But for now its not practical.

  • JeffByles
    JeffByles Expensify Customer Posts: 7 Expensify Newcomer

    @Ted Harris Just increasing the price will work, but its a bit of a hack way of doing it as auditors will know something does not line up. But you're right, in my opinion this is the best solution to this right now. It was just cleaner before they depreciated this.

  • Ted Harris
    Ted Harris Expensify Success Coach - Admin Posts: 340 Expensify Team

    @JeffByles what do you mean by "its a bit of a hack way of doing it as auditors will know something does not line up"?

    If somebody is amending the amount and currency to instead match their exact statement amount, this isn't a hack - it's accurately reporting the amount incurred isn't it? There should be nothing an auditor will see wrong about that.

  • JeffByles
    JeffByles Expensify Customer Posts: 7 Expensify Newcomer

    @Ted Harris What I mean by this is that you can only change the original currency amount not the native currency amount. So technical you have to put a value that's not correct in order for it to calculate a more correct value for what you were actually charged. This may not be true for the computer version, but it certainly is for mobile.

  • Ted Harris
    Ted Harris Expensify Success Coach - Admin Posts: 340 Expensify Team

    you can only change the original currency amount not the native currency amount

    This is correct. You're right that this is the one time that manually amending the amount doesn't provide as many features as the card import (either manually or via CSV) does, because with those imports we have the purchase and posted currencies.

    What is the reason your employees need both currencies for your ledger? You're obviously only reimbursing in one currency, but do you need to report the foreign spend for some other VAT reasons?

    If so, I'd say they'd need to stick with an import or ideally, be issued with a Company Card - the Expensify Card if possible.

  • JeffByles
    JeffByles Expensify Customer Posts: 7 Expensify Newcomer

    So your "better solutions" are importing CSV files or using your credit card? How did you come to that conclusion?

    Before: you enter the date, the factor is looked up and then it is padded with the surcharge automatically. Employees don't have to do anything and they are always happy because the surcharge margin assures they never loose money.


    Now: they will automatically loose money most of the time (from my experience and review) unless they download and browse through their CSV files. Which cant be done via phone. Great, lots more work. Can you try explaining that to a 67 year old man who I was amazed could even learn the system?

    I say return it. To the 0.1% it matters alot. Your solutions are absolutely atrocious and time - expensive (the whole point of Expensify is to avoid this?) and the alternative to not using it is ripping our employees off. Great.

  • JeffByles
    JeffByles Expensify Customer Posts: 7 Expensify Newcomer

    @Ted Sorry Ted. It seems I missed your last post.

    To clarify: I think the best solution is having users be able to modify the exchange rate. (The surcharge percentage worked best, because that's what actually is going on, but I guess that has sailed).

    1. The reason importing is a bad solution: first my bank is not compatible. Importing statements is an extra level of complication that we never had with our old manual reports. Users could just change the exchange rate. Why should an Expense software be more difficult than that?
    2. Changing the purchase currency so that the user currency is correct is a bad solution. Why? Because then the receipt image does not match what is posted. What if we are audited? Why don't the receipts equal the listed amount?
    3. The Expensify Credit Card cannot be a serious solution to this problem. I understand it may be a nice to have but there about a dozen reasons any company may choose not to go down this route.

    So as it stands right now for me and my teams expenses. I am left with having to manually calculate how much I lost in the transaction process (about 3%) and then add it as a new expense and attach images of my banking statements. Not ideal, not clean and not simpler than using an old fashion spread sheet.

    Solution to me is clear. Why can't we just modify the exchange rate? Then the purchase currency is correct, the actual expense is correct and no more unhappy employees, auditors and accountants. No linking your bank account, no uploading CSV files, etc etc.

  • Ted Harris
    Ted Harris Expensify Success Coach - Admin Posts: 340 Expensify Team

    Thanks @JeffByles - no worries on the long gap, I'm happy to chat about this anytime. A few things I'd like to pick up on:

    Importing statements is an extra level of complication that we never had with our old manual reports. Users could just change the exchange rate.

    This isn't actually true. Users have never been able to "update the exchange rate" directly. They have been able to add an arbitrary percentage to the existing expense so that our existing conversion converts a higher value. This brings me onto my next point:

    Because then the receipt image does not match what is posted. What if we are audited?

    This is exactly what the old solution was. If you had a 5% surcharge set and you uploaded a £20 receipt for a USD policy, we would change the amount from £20 to £21 and convert that instead. This is far worse than just changing the expense to whatever the correct ~$25.xx it actually was.

    What specifically is the problem for an auditor when the receipt amount matches the bank statement amount, rather than the receipt amount?

    The Expensify Credit Card cannot be a serious solution to this problem.

    It is, and we're not sure of many reasons outside of the countries we can't offer it is, other than the choice of the business not to use it due to a preference for another card scheme. Adopting almost any other expense solution on the market right now, also requires that you adopt their card product.

    Of course, Expensify also integrates with any MasterCard or VISA feed worldwide if your bank will give you one - for example, in the UK common banks are HSBC (via HSBC MiVision), Santander (via AirPlus), American Express (Amex @Work cards) or Silicon Valley Bank and Barclays (who simply have various spending requirements) and for customers in the United States, you can connect directly with Bank of America, Citibank, CapitalOne, Chase, Wells Fargo and our friends over at Stripe and Brex.

    Solution to me is clear. Why can't we just modify the exchange rate?

    I think I understand this - as what is a brand new solution (rather than simply bringing the surcharge back). What you'd like instead of just uploading one CSV at the end of the month (remember, the merging is automatic, so you don't need to do anything other than three clicks to upload - or a finance admin can do it for you and the whole company via Settings > Domains > [Domain Name] > Company Cards in the same time it would take one individual to do it for themselves) - what you'd like to do is manually amend the exchange rate of each foreign transaction individually - not at the time they were incurred but later, one by one by using the rate you find on your bank statement that the bank used instead?

    Now we have an idea for policy surcharge here which we won't develop, but the idea you're referring to for "Override FX rate on the individual expense level" can be found to vote on here. I'd encourage you to add your vote there.

  • VisionRx
    VisionRx Expensify Customer Posts: 27 Expensify Admirer

    Ted, you have done a great job at deflecting the points made by Jeff. However, it is not necessary. Jeff is still fair and relevant in his concerns. In fact, I have the exact same concerns and wish you would return the 'currency conversion surcharge'. As a Canadian customer, this feature worked great and required no extra work or uploading on my part.

    By the way, your approach of moving in the direction of relying on credit card uploads just isn't for every company. And now you have taken away the alternative!

    Jeff is correct to suggest that an easy way to remedy this, if restoring the conversion feature upsets you, would be to give us the option to alter the exchange rate so we can include the surcharge fees.

  • Ted Harris
    Ted Harris Expensify Success Coach - Admin Posts: 340 Expensify Team

    @VisionRx - just to be clear, you'd like the ability to simply override the FX rate per individual expense? That doesn't sound like something that goes against the grain - so I think that does make sense - it's the same effort as just amending the settled amount.

  • VisionRx
    VisionRx Expensify Customer Posts: 27 Expensify Admirer

    Ted, you are exactly right! I'm suggesting that having the ability to override the FX rate per individual expense would provide a workable solution for me. I appreciate your understanding.

  • Flavia Faria
    Flavia Faria Expensify Team Posts: 37 Expensify Team

    Hey @VisionRx thanks for your feedback. You mentioned you'd like the option to alter the exchange rate to include the surcharge fees but you can currently amend the total converted amount so that it matches your statement. If you would simply edit the rate then you would still need to manually account for fees, right? To me, it seems like pretty much the same amount of manual work so not really worth building this. You should also take into account that you would need to amend the exchange rate per day so it would become quite a bit of work. If possible, the best option would still be to connect your card or upload your transactions via CSV. Then the next best solution is simply amending the expense converted amount to match what you get on your statement.

  • VisionRx
    VisionRx Expensify Customer Posts: 27 Expensify Admirer

    Flavia, you're never go to get me to upload transactions via a credit card or CSV file so please stop hammering me with that. Nor do I need to amend exchange rates every day since, as a Canadian company, I don't have U.S. dollar expenses every day. It might happen one or twice a month. For those few transactions, I previously relied on the old feature "currency conversion surcharge". But since you have taken that away, I am simply asking that you allow me to enter a U.S. dollar expense so it matches the receipt, i.e., a $25USD expense is entered as $25USD so it matches the receipt and then adjust the exchange rate to match the exchange rate plus service fees. I really don't think I'm out of line with this request.

  • Flavia Faria
    Flavia Faria Expensify Team Posts: 37 Expensify Team

    I wanted to outline all the options we provide and recommend. They might not be ideal for you, but can be for someone else reading the thread. Going back to the edit currency exchange rate proposal, I'm still not convinced this is worth building. If you SmartScan a receipt that says $25USD and you update it to $32CAD we would flag in the expense that the original amount was $25USD. So anyone approving that expense would see both amounts. We also have a violation in place that flags if you adjust the converted amount. You can then add a note to the expense or the report saying you've adjusted the exchange rate.

  • GeorgeL
    GeorgeL Expensify Customer Posts: 1

    Agree with dennisg, VisionRx, JeffBytes. When I use credit cards I don't want to either connect my credit card statement with Expensify or have to wait for a statement or grab a transaction to enter. I spent a good deal of time trying not to lose money because expensify was using bank-to-bank exchange rates which was not reflecting my out of pocket costs. That experience completely soured me on expensify. I don't want to use or can't use an expensify CC or a company CC. Although I'm not traveling at the moment, I'm not looking forward to the new system and checking whether I am being shorted again.

    Many of receipts are not able to be translated in expensify (even the receipt amount) so in those cases the system completely falls apart. In general, expensify seems to work domestically but has some limitations for international expenses.

    Since a company is expensify's customer, the system tends to favors companies.

  • VisionRx
    VisionRx Expensify Customer Posts: 27 Expensify Admirer

    I just came back from a trip to the U.S., so I am reminded that my U.S. dollar expenses are being converted to Canadian dollars at an exchange rate that does not include a fees (usually an additional 2.85%).

    Has any consideration been given to allowing users to adjust the exchange rate when entering foreign dollar expenses? This is really a 'must-have' for Expensify customers who can not download credit cards.