How Brick Powers The Next Generation of Fintech Companies with Aspire’s Corporate Cards

Company Size
Gavin Tan, Deepak Malhotra
Case study focus
Expense Management

The Company: A Fast Growing Finance API Platform in Southeast Asia

Founded in 2020, Brick quickly built a name for itself building financial APIs for fintech products and services in Southeast Asia. Based out of Indonesia, they empower the next generation of fintech companies with Open Finance and Payments technology infrastructure that is easy to integrate, cost-effective, and inclusive. 

The Challenges: Growth Hindered by Inefficiencies 

In order to maintain their status as a fast-growing tech startup in the region, Brick needed to ensure that their internal finance processes were agile enough to support their growth momentum. This meant empowering their employees to make smart decisions and building lean processes that would help their team focus on priorities that make maximum impact on the business. While this was already possible in most aspects of the business, they had so far fallen short when it came to managing expenses. 

#1 Sluggish Centralized Processing of all kinds of payments

As Brick relied on only a few shared corporate cards reserved for specific purposes, most employees were forced to raise purchase orders (POs) whenever they needed to purchase any goods or services for the company. 

Not only did the Purchase Order process require complex documentation and multiple quotes justifying the expenses, but also needed to be centrally approved by management. Employees lacked the empowerment to make purchase decisions in a timely manner, severely delaying the implementation of vital solutions. 

#2 Difficulty Scaling with their Current Corporate Cards

With the ultimate goal of scaling their operations, Brick was hampered by their reliance on their existing corporate card solution. Due to the time-consuming application process and high fees their bank required, Brick was not able to issue new corporate cards swiftly enough to new employees. This limited supply posed some critical issues:

  • Dependency on the few cardholders to make any purchase decision always resulted in delays
  • Card details were often shared in an insecure manner, posing a high risk of abuse. 
  • Every card issued to Brick came with hidden charges and additional fees, which severely hampered their liquidity deterred Brick from issuing more Corporate cards
  • Card Users had very limited control, being unable to set spend or credit limits to each card. 
  • Brick received poor customer service from their existing corporate card provider, who were often unresponsive to Brick’s requests and queries.

As these were locally issued Corporate Cards in Indonesia, they could only be used for purchases made in Indonesian Rupiahs (IDR). As a result, they could not be used for vital SaaS subscriptions requiring payments in other currencies (like USD). As a startup prioritising growth and optimal customer experience, this opportunity loss meant Brick could not achieve a growth rate close to its full potential. 

For fast growing organisations like ours, working with traditional banks pose a lot of challenges. Archaic and manual processes coupled with old school features are an impediment to modern businesses like ours.

- Gavin Tan, CEO of Brick

#3 Lack of Real-time Visibility

The limited number of corporate cards available often meant employees had no choice but to use their personal funds or rely on PO based spending as mentioned above. Resorting to either of these alternatives caused a severe lack of real-time visibility to spends being made vis a vis the budgets. This often led to month-end surprises when POs and employee claims were finally processed and budgets were often found to have been exceeded. 

This made it extremely difficult to intervene in a timely manner and ensure financial projections were adhered to, and almost impossible to delegate spending across different teams.

 #4 Manual Reconciliation of Receipts

The key downside of manual processes is that everything has to be done manually, no matter how large the workload. When it came to reconciling every month-end spend for each card and PO, the finance team were always faced with the daunting task of accounting for every expense. This included:

  • Matching each expense with the respective teams that made the purchase decision 
  • Confirming if each spend was authorised
  • Following up on documentation to ensure accuracy and necessary audit trail for compliance
  • Matching physical receipts with the relevant expenses

These steps meant as much as 30 minutes was wasted on identifying and processing per claim or invoice received. 

The Brick team at the Tech in Asia Indonesia conference

The Solution: Empowered with Corporate Cards

As the pressure built up for Brick to expand their operations, their team decided to leverage a more optimised solution, opting for Aspire’s finance OS to streamline their spend management and linked operations - quick and efficient corporate card issuance, real-time visibility of their spend at any point in time and automated reconciliation processes. 

#1 Virtual Cards for All functions

With Aspire’s help, Brick can now issue unlimited numbers of Aspire’s multi-functional Virtual Cards instantly to as many employees as they require without any additional fees or overheads. With clearly defined and secure processes for spend authorisation, these virtual cards allow Brick to delegate purchasing power directly to card holders for quick execution without fear of spending over budget. 

Most importantly, Aspire’s virtual cards operate on multiple currencies, thus allowing Brick to pay their SaaS vendors and digital marketing platforms directly in USD, and also save more with cashback as well as low FX fees on these vital tools they needed to scale efficiently. It was a win-win for the team.

With Aspire we have been able to issue 20+ virtual cards for different teams instantly at 0 extra cost. We are able to set limits, assign budgets and design automated approval flows with a single click giving us complete control while at the same time empowering our teams to make quick decisions. The entire expense management process is automated and seamless. It’s a delight not having me or my team get involved in day to day manual reconciliation processes or buying decisions.

- Gavin Tan, CEO of Brick

#2 Tracking Spend with Real-time Visibility and Control

Plotting Brick’s exponential growth is no longer based on blind decision making due to cumbersome manual processing. Aspire enables the finance team to manage the multiple corporate cards across various users and departments with a simple intuitive interface.

This interface allows them to set spend limits on the fly, set budgets and merchant locks, adjust spend policies, as well as track spend limits in real-time for better control and adherence to agreed budgets. Timely intervention to manage spends better across the organisation is now a reality at Brick.

#3 Goodbye Manual Processing

Aspire’s spend management solution has helped Brick cut down their manual processes significantly. Gone are the days of sifting through mountains of receipt and hours spent following up for documents and approvals.

Employees can now upload all receipts at one place enabling the finance team to access them easily and maintain efficient records. Automated reminders, approval workflows and integration with their accounting software for faster reconciliation mean the Brick finance team has helped save hours of productivity across the organisation. 

#4 Dedicated Support from Aspire

Most importantly, Brick now has a dedicated Account Manager with Aspire who provides them with fast, efficient and personalised support, specifically tailored to help them achieve their goals of growth and expansion

With Aspire, we were able to open our account online and were ready to go within 2-3 days. The user interface is not just intuitive but is also built to offer complete control to users. The icing on the cake, of course, is having an Account manager dedicated to our account. We are very impressed with Aspire’s focus on customer experience. Truly built for modern businesses and entrepreneurs like us.

- Gavin Tan, CEO of Brick

The Outcome: Brick’s Corporate Card Solution is Solid

Brick has grown its regional presence, empowered with a real-time view of company spend at all times. 

The effect of leveraging Aspire’s Corporate Cards to strengthen their finance operations was felt almost immediately throughout the business - From faster decision making, to time saved in processing claims and expenses, to cost savings from FX fees and Cashbacks on SaaS platforms. 

As Brick continues to grow in Southeast Asia, the importance of having scalable solutions, and being able to issue them quickly and efficiently is key to helping them sustain this growth. As Brick’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) says it when asked of Aspire’s Impact: 

Aspire has helped us tremendously in giving us access to world class SAAS platforms that we were otherwise missing out on. Access to these platforms is an imperative for modern businesses like ours that cannot not have but the best customer experience and that have an ambition to scale quickly and sustainably as well.

- Gavin Tan, CEO of Brick

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