This month, we sat with Julia Pilleri, Corporate Controller at Midaxo to discuss our relationship with the Boston-based start-up.
Julia, thank you for joining us today. To start us off, could you tell me a little bit about Midaxo and your role within the company?
Yes, of course. Midaxo is a software development company. We develop proprietary software to support the M&A space; companies that are routinely engaging in mergers and acquisition transactions would utilize our platform.
The company was originally founded in Finland, and we now have three locations across the globe: Helsinki, Amsterdam, and in the United States, Boston. Boston is the headquarters for the entire organization.
I joined Midaxo in June of 2019. I came aboard as the corporate controller and my role here has primarily been supporting the CFO and the administrative needs of the company to bring all facets of accounting and finance administration under one house. Over the past two years, we have been tasked with reducing all the external partners locally that were doing accounting, finance, tax, audit, and payable processing. We brought it all in-house and implemented an ERP solution that was global for all the subsidiaries.
Consolidating and implementing a new solution is a huge task to undertake, what were the initial challenges you encountered?
When I joined Midaxo, our primary challenge was that we were operating three completely different accounting offices. While the parent organization is in Finland and the reporting currency was in euro, we didn’t have on-site accounting staff. We had an outside person doing all the accounting in Finland, another outside firm doing it in Amsterdam, and a third firm doing it in Boston. Additionally, in locations where we had satellite employees, we also had payroll partners doing the payroll for our employees in Latvia or in the UK for example.
As a startup, you need to be a lean, mean, efficient machine, and having three sets of accounting books that weren’t consolidated properly, that weren’t really considering the global needs, the forecast projections, and the budget as one organization was crucial. So, the initial task for us was to identify an accounting platform and ERP system that we could use to bring all that functionality into one place and into one center.
We’d been using Salesforce as our CRM system and the decision was made prior to me joining that we would purchase financial accounting software that could bolt on to Salesforce as our general ledger package. We went with SAP Concur as our payables and expense solution, TransferMate then came in to support the actual payment processing for our global payroll.
What made you specifically choose SAP Concur and the TransferMate solution?
We had an enormous issue with how we were going to make this happen because in the United States, Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions are common, and people are using those more every day. But in international locations, they do everything via bank transfer.
One of the real challenges that we had was that we needed to be able to enter AP, route for approval, and then ultimately, get the bills paid. We looked at billpay.com but that was only US-based so we couldn’t pay our international vendors.
SAP Concur is the leader in the US market for expense reporting and we were already using Expensify. I knew from my prior world that Concur could process AP and expenses in other currencies. It solved the first part of the challenge for us which was how do we get the bills, routed, approved, captured, and migrated over for reporting into the ledger. I then investigated the SAP Concur addons and what our options were for making international payments.
We looked at partners that I had worked with before such as American Express, but we ended up going with the PaymentsHub by TransferMate solution because it had a prebuilt integration into Concur. It was simple to turn on, and it was going to solve our problem with how we could pay both foreign vendors and vendors who paid in other currencies.
Once you decided on the TransferMate add-on, how was it implemented?
We had outstanding support from TransferMate from the outset. Had it not been for the implementation team at TransferMate, I might have walked away and got another solution.
First, we had to go into the TransferMate system and enter each vendor, validate each vendor’s banking details so they would be available to use going forward. That was an unexpected step in the implementation, but it was very valuable and extremely useful. It’s important to validate your vendors, particularly when you’re changing systems.
Once I’ve done that part and say, for example, I have 10 or 12 invoices ready to pay, I run one invoice batch, get a reference number and just add one extra step of going into Nordea to process the payment funds over and I am finished.
Every day, the platform seems to be getting a little bit better and making enhancements.
The team is always here to help! Since it has gone live Julia, what are the big benefits that Midaxo has realized?
Straight off, I’m saving money. We have two vendors out of the US operations that we pay in euros. I’ve noticed in both cases whenever I use the TransferMate system, the exchange rate for those payments is favorable. And they are large! They can be 20 to 50 thousand euros per month. I’ve checked it against the SVD transaction rates on that day and they have always been favorable!
With other solutions that I investigated, when you pay your bill, you get quoted a rate, and ultimately when the funds transfer, the rate may or may not be adjusted. What has been brilliant for me with TransferMate is that when I validate my batch and accept the rates, my cash is locked in at that rate, it doesn’t change.
In my day, it’s also a huge timesaver, as I can batch process the payables and I don’t have to go back the next day and see what came out of the bank and match it up. Being able to utilize TransferMate and go end to end in the same exact time frame that I’ve allocated to do payables has been huge.
Saving time and money are huge benefits to every organization, are there any other key metrics that you could share with us today?
The solution reduces the need for additional human intervention when paired with SAP Concur. If you’re pairing this with Concur and the invoices are feeding over, you already have your approval flow and process, so everything is approved by the time it gets to the TransferMate payment process. I have found that in our specific case that allowed me to cease using other resources to manage AP. I could tell you that at one point within the US, we were paying our third-party provider about $1,000 a month to do AP. That’s been reduced to 0. And that’s just in the US. We were paying a much larger consulting fee to the people in Finland, and that’s been reduced to nothing too.
It’s also a far more efficient way to process payments than any manual solution. When you have verified your beneficiary once, you’re all set, so you’re reducing the risk of making an error when you’re pushing the payment through or even when you must upload something, match it up to the right vendors and the bank system.
I’ve noticed a huge reduction in human error because we had people previously doing these functions paying the wrong amount, the wrong bill, or grabbing the wrong banking information, so the human error component can be completely reduced to minimal or nothing.
The system has credibility. The entire process end to end has credibility with the management. That’s important. They need to know that the systems are working for them, and the people aren’t working for the systems.
Great way to phrase it, Julia. Finally, would you recommend TransferMate to others, and if so, why?
I would absolutely recommend it. The product solves a very real problem for anybody that needs to pay people in either non-US currencies or has a non-US financial institution.
It’s a no-brainer for me. I can simply go into the app, go through the invoices that are due on that day or that month, and checkbox them and go. In my opinion, why would anyone not want to do that?
With TransferMate you are saving money on the exchange rate fees, you’re saving money on the transaction costs and if you’re billing or doing your payments in a different currency, there are no fees associated with that. I couldn’t understand why somebody wouldn’t want to do that.
Thank you for your time today, Julia, we really appreciate it and look forward to our continued success in the future.