Compliance Travel & Expense Finance AI Did You Know?

Are your corporate expense policies getting lost in translation?

by Gary Malhotra July 26, 2021

In this edition of our “Did You Know?” series, we look at how finance teams can verify foreign language expense receipts. This ongoing series highlights the capabilities and benefits of AppZen Expense Audit, bringing you deeper into what makes it tick and how you can take advantage.

Travel and expense managers and auditors in global companies need to ensure that expense policies are followed by employees travelling overseas in countries where English is not the native language. But spending decisions can be easily lost in translation when employees and auditors do not know how to read or speak the language.

Employees travelling overseas tend to make decisions on local travel, meals, incidentals, and entertainment without fully knowing what service or product is being provided, or exactly how much it will cost. They may not always be aware of the latest foreign exchange rates, billing practices, or hidden fees and taxes that may be prevalent in a particular country.

Further, employees who are looking for ways to game the policies may feel that finance managers and auditors based in their English-speaking headquarters may also not know how to read receipts in foreign languages. Thus, they may feel empowered to violate policies with respect to merchant categories, expense types, and amounts. 

Expense managers and auditors have traditionally either ignored foreign travel receipts from an auditing standpoint or audited a small sample, perhaps 5%, of such receipts. They then try to use publicly-available tools, like Google Translate, which are often not accurate and are not integrated with their expense audit applications. This leads to a lower confidence in identified risk areas, higher manual effort, and a lot of false positives.

AppZen’s AI-powered Expense Audit specializes in reading unstructured data on receipts and enriches its understanding by using thousands of online and social databases. Only AppZen has the ability to extract unstructured receipt data in 90+ languages, use expense-specific proprietary translation technology to translate these into English, and then apply your corporate expense policies. It also detects and understands country-specific currencies and business documents. This enables finance auditors to identify expense violations by international employees or during foreign travel.

The example below illustrates how AppZen was able to detect a first-class airline upgrade by an employee in China.


Another example below illustrates how AppZen automatically translates Chinese foreign language receipts into English, and overlays the translated text on top of the foreign receipt image, for ease of reference by the expense auditors.


AppZen does more than translate and verify foreign language receipts against expense policy. It also checks for missing fapiaos or incorrect fapiao details. When organizations have an operating entity in China, employees are required to submit fapiao while submitting expenses, so businesses can qualify for tax deductions. AppZen’s fapiao validation model helps make sure that relevant expenses have a correct fapiao attached so you can receive all qualified tax deductions.

AppZen flags transactions as high-risk if a fapiao is missing from a CNY receipt, for expense types that require fapiao and that the customer has not excluded. It also checks for business titles and tax code, vendor name consistency, fapiao format, and official stamps. It ensures all the proper fapiaos are collected and ready to be used in the reclaim process. It allows expense managers to stay in compliance with fapiao requirements and maximize tax deductions on all qualifying expenses.

Well beyond a translator, Expense Audit helps you avoid losing more than just the subtleties and significance of foreign expenses during your auditing process.

Wondering what else AppZen Expense Audit can do? Check out the rest of our “Did You Know?” series, check out AppZen Expense Audit on the web, or reach out!

Gary Malhotra

Sr. Director of Product Marketing