Freshbooks - Automatic Expense Import

One of my big requests for [Freshbooks][1] is finally here!

According to the latest post on the Freshbooks blog, this new feature is finally out of Beta, and available to all users. 

What is Automatic Expense Import?

Good question. It's just a fancy way of saying that they can now pull in transactions from your bank account automatically. The reason they used the wording they did is because it's a little different from the way apps like Wave or Kashoo handle it. 

In Wave or Kashoo (or for that matter), all transactions are pulled in...deposits and withdrawals. In Freshbooks, only the withdrawals are imported. That means you're only going to be automating the expenses...for now. 

According to the comments, Freshbooks is looking at implementing the full picture at some point. In a very Apple-like fashion, they're making sure they only include what works. And, if it all goes well, it sounds like they'll add more features in the future. 

The only thing I can see being an issue with that right now is returns. If I buy a $600 computer today, return it tomorrow, and then buy a $500 computer will just import $1100 worth of purchases, not the $600 return. So, you're still going to need to scan your bank statements each month to make sure you're capturing everything. Once they have the ability to import all of your transactions, these complaints will be moot. 

It's obviously early days. It was just released today (or yesterday depending on when this post goes up). I went ahead and linked up a bank account and my PayPal account to test it out. The connection process was painless, and it didn't take long to have things all setup. 

Keep in mind that the amount of transaction history imported will vary from bank to bank. PayPal only brought in 1 month of history. My bank brought in 3 months. That's a limitation with the banks...not Freshbooks. If you've ever used these features in other apps like Mint or Wave, you'll already know about this. 

Editing multiple transactions at once seems simple. If you have personal expenses mixed in with your business purchases, it's easy to select and delete the ones you don't want to track. 

The only thing I don't see right now is the ability to assign tax codes to multiple transactions. Editing one line lets you assign GST/HST, and add a snapshot of a receipt. When you select multiple lines, you can only bulk edit vendor, category, or client (if they are reimbursable expenses). That's still a lot of functionality, but I'd like to see the ability to tag several as having GST at once. Maybe this will come in the future. 

At the moment, they are only supporting US and Canadian banks. A quick glance in the post comments indicates they're working on adding other countries. There's apparently a place you can submit your bank so they can develop a list as they grow the feature. 

Anyway, I'll keep testing out the feature, and will let you know if my opinion changes significantly in time. 

If you have tested out the feature, please let me know what you think. Also, if you are reading this from within the Freshbooks offices and want to drop any exclusive info into the comments of your favourite bookkeepers' site...I wouldn't mind at all. :)

If you want to check it out, here's the link to get started. 


update: I ran into a snag upon further testing. It doesn't support ScotiaBank or RBC yet. Apparently it's a problem that they're working directly with those banks to sort out. Considering these are two of Canada's biggest banks, I didn't even consider the possibility that they wouldn't work. Anyway...just something you should be aware of. If you read through the full comments on that blog post, you'll find a full list of supported banks.