Tech giant Tencent thinks blockchain can speed up the reimbursement of expenses for company employees, and it’s trialing a feature on its WeChat app to do just that.
According to a blog post published on Friday, Tencent has piloted the application at a local restaurant in Shenzhen, China, where a user paid the bill through its existing payments service WeChat Pay.
By feeding the payment data over its blockchain platform to the user’s employer, the restaurant and Shenzhen’s local taxation authority, Tencent said delays normally encountered via the standard manual claims process are eliminated. As such, the company hopes its system will eventually find use in streamlining and hastening the expense reimbursement process, while also reducing the prevalence of falsified receipts.
Currently, China employs a somewhat complex system whereby merchants issue different payment receipts for individuals and firms. When staff need to be reimbursed for dining expenses, for instance, they must request a receipt for companies listing the exact taxpayer number of their employer.
In order to do that, employees need to have the merchant manually type in the taxpayer number on the receipt in every instance. Furthermore, that process is typically followed by additional manual tasks, such as collecting receipts and filing a claim before they can receive a refund.
The first batch of merchants to have integrated the system for the trial also include a parking lot at Shenzhen’s Bao’An Stadium, an automobile repair center and a restaurant owned by Tencent.
Tackling a related issue in a different project, Tencent has also partnered with the Shenzhen government to battle tax evasion.
In China, merchants are required to purchase a number of receipts – known as fapiao – from the authorities to act as advance tax payments prior to any sales. As they issue receipts to customers, merchants must calculate the difference between the prepaid amount and the actual tax arising from sales to provide a basis for the next round of tax payments. However, falsified receipts are common in China as a means of tax evasion.
Tencent said that, by putting the issuance process on a traceable blockchain, it would provide tax authorities with a paperless taxation system via which it can track the circulation of receipts.