This startup is making invoicing less dreadful with the blockchain

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This startup is making invoicing less dreadful with the blockchain

Fintech has transformed the world of finance, but there’s one headache-inducing aspect of accounting that still remains: invoicing. If you handle invoicing on the daily, you know the struggle I’m talking about. Thankfully, though, it won’t be around for much longer.

Founded in 2017 by Etienne Tatur and Christophe Lassuyt, Request is a startup offering a cheaper, safer, and easier alternative to the traditional invoicing process. Right now, payment detection for invoices is done manually. You need to check the bank statement to determine whether an invoice has been paid or not — a process taking valuable time and effort.

As Benjamin Shafii, the Engineering Manager at Request explained, “[we lack a] single source of truth for invoices.” A system where parties can make payment requests, transfer funds, and get automatic updates on the payment status all in one place. Request is building that very system.

International by design

Prior to starting Request, its two founders worked together on a money transfer company. But Tatur and Lassuyt found that, despite increasing globalization, the current economic climate wasn’t equipped to handle international transactions in an effective or affordable way. Their business faced endless obstacles: high international transfer fees, incompatible banking systems, and segmented economic landscapes with different currencies, laws, and protocols.

Discovering the problem went a lot deeper than initially thought, the two founders decided to create an entirely new payment system catering to international transactions by design. That’s how Request was born: a decentralized network allowing users to request payments, make purchases, and get real-time status updates, all in one place. Right now, it can only be used for transactions in cryptocurrencies but more currencies will be added this year.

Blockchain is a double-edged sword

When it comes to finance and security, blockchain is a game-changer. “The great thing about putting your payment information on the blockchain is once it’s there, no one can change it,” explained Shafii enthusiastically. “This means it’s very easy to verify where your money goes, and very difficult to commit fraud. Blockchain has the potential to eliminate corruption, increase trust in governments and organizations, and guarantee security.”

But as the Request team had realized, working on blockchain also comes with its downsides. The startup encourages corporate clients to build apps on Request and incorporate them into their B2B software solutions. Building on the new technology, however, is difficult for developers who lack the necessary expertise. Feedback from software engineers convinced Request that they might be a few steps ahead of the industry.

The Request team at their HQ in TQ, Amsterdam

Unfazed by challenges, Request engineers went back to the drawing board. Right now, they’re working on making the platform easier to work with for someone with no previous experience. “What we’re doing now is building a bridge from the past to the future — from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0, as blockchain is often referred to,” Benjamin said.

The Request team is confident that once the technical obstacles are removed, their network will truly get off the ground. According to Benjamin, blockchain might sound like a foreign concept to many, but the pain of invoicing and handling international payment requests is all too real for anyone working in finance. People are ready for change. Soon the technology will be too.

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