Wave made an impact on the online accounting software space not by doing anything drastically differently from other young companies out there tackling the problem, but by doing it for free with an ad-supported model. Now, the startup is expanding its feature set into an area that many of those looking for accounting services have likely been missing from the original product with the debut of a free receipt scanner and companion apps. The new Receipts by Wave product, which includes an iPhone app and online entry via the Wave web-based dashboard, is designed to make it possible for business owners to file receipts with their accounting software anywhere on the spot, instead of forcing them to lug around paper receipts to manage at a later date. Similar tools are offered by industry incumbents like Concur, but Wave's (which will be supplemented by an email-based tool and an Android app soon) is unique in that it's a free addition to an already free product. Wave's model is based around offering value to entrepreneurs and small business owners who want the kind of convenience offered by cloud-based accounting and finance tools, but can't necessarily shoulder the subscription fees that often come along with those types of SaaS products. This receipt scanner, complete with OCR character recognition so that it actually parses the data contained on the piece of paper, rather than just storing an image for later use, helps further that goal according to Wave founder and CEO Kirk Simpson. "We still love free, and we believe that Receipts by Wave is perfectly suited to our free model," he said in an interview. "We are exploring additional functionality for which there may be an additional cost. But the core Receipts by Wave functionality is something we're excited to make available to our customers at no charge, just like Wave's accounting and invoicing tools." Wave, founded in 2010, recently rebranded to highlight its change in focus from just accounting to a wider variety of financial tools, including payroll and invoicing software. With over $19 million in funding and 600,000 users to date, it's one of the more successful Canadian startups in recent memory. Simpson says this product addition will help not only in keeping those existing users satisfied, but should act as a competitive advantage to help attract new users, too. "By putting invoicing, accounting, receipt scanning, reporting, payments, payroll and personal finance in a single tool, we expect to see more engagement from our existing users," he said. "As well as more adoption by people who want to switch from spreadsheets and shoeboxes and/or other software — online or off — that doesn't truly match their needs." The new Receipts by Wave app is available in the App Store for iPhone now, and on the web. It's a strong addition to a strong product, and should help Wave make an even better case for why free, in this case, might actually be better than expensive when it comes to some SaaS offerings.
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