A robot helps in the Corona crisis

At Yokoy we actually want to make it easier for companies to deal with expenses and company credit cards through our app. In times of the current Corona crisis, however, our start-up has now become a neighbourhood helper.

Videostill of Yokoy
Thanks to our expense app, participants of the Nachbarschafts-Hilfe Lenzburg receive a quick and uncomplicated refund of their expenses for purchases without having to exchange cash.

No doubt, the corona pandemic is driving digitisation at lightning speed. This is also the case with the Nachbarschafts-Hilfe Lenzburg. A community aid that brings people in need together with people who want to help in this extraordinary situation. For example, by buying food or buying medicine.

The people behind Nachbarschafts-Hilfe Lenzburg coordinate the aid operations as far as possible by digital means. "We have set up a group on WhatsApp for the flow of information, we maintain a database with the names of people available for relief efforts, and we provide a contactless payment system for financial transactions," says Rafael Enzler, co-initiator of Nachbarschafts-Hilfe Lenzburg.

To pay for the expenses, the company has opted for our expense app since cash should not be exchanged because of the distance that needs to be maintained and the potential of transmission of the disease through cash. "Many of the people in need of help are already over 65 years old and are not familiar with Twint or other apps for cashless money transfer via smartphone. In contrast, the helpers are usually still young and used to using smartphone apps," says Enzler. That's why the Yokoy is now being used for the help program. The app was downloaded more than 50 times in the first week of use.

Fully automated expense management thanks to AI

Until a few weeks ago, we could not have imagined that the technology could one day be used as a tool for neighborhood assistance. The software was actually developed for expense reporting for medium-sized and larger companies. So how was our product now adapted to the current needs in light of Corona? Helpers pay for the purchases out of their own pockets. They can photograph and upload the receipts for their expenses with their smartphone through our expense app. The rest of the data processing in the app is fully automated and takes only a few seconds thanks to artificial intelligence. The corresponding account that will reimburse the receipts is managed by the Nachbarschafts-Hilfe Lenzburg. Yokoy transmits the payment data to the Hypothekarbank Lenzburg and the bank transfers the money to helpers within three to four working days.

The people who have taken advantage of the help of the community aid do not need an app. They will receive a final invoice by mail with a payment slip from the Städtischen Hilfsgesellschaft Lenzburg (aid organisation of the municipal Lenzburg). The aid organisation provides sufficient liquidity so that repayments can also be made once the situation in Switzerland has returned to normal and the people in need of help can go to the bank or post office again without any risk.

Solidarity in the Corona Crisis

Like the initiators of the Nachbarschafts-Hilfe Lenzburg, the municipal aid association, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, Yokoy waives any fee for our services. 

When developing our software, the goal was clear: It should take a maximum of five seconds to record a receipt. We consider the fact that we can now make our app available as part of the Lenzburg Neighbourhood Help organisation as a solidarity contribution to the efficient management of the Corona crisis. Even more, the fact that we are now also being used for an aid program does not only show us that we have a really useful product to offer but we also feel honored to be one small piece of a much larger solidarity movement in times of Covid 19.

This article first appeared in abridged form on the blog of Hypothekarbank Lenzburg.

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