Startup neobank Mercury is taking on Brex and Ramp with new bill pay, spend management software


Digital banking startup Mercury is layering software onto its bank accounts, giving its business customers the ability to pay bills, invoice customers and reimburse employees, the company has told TechCrunch exclusively. The additional features puts the company in even more direct competition with the likes of Brex and Ramp, two rival fintechs that have for years been fighting for market share in an increasingly crowded space.

The fintech, which has been offering banking services to startups and other businesses since 2019, is first expanding by offering accounting automation and more sophisticated bill pay features with new software that will be integrated with its bank accounts, executives have told TechCrunch exclusively. This summer, it will also begin offering invoicing and employee reimbursement.

Mercury says that it has over 200,000 customers sending $4 billion in outgoing payments every month via its platform. 

“As companies get a little more sophisticated, they want to have more controls around those payments in terms of approvals and they want those payments to integrate better with their accounting system,” CEO and co-founder Immad Akhund told TechCrunch in an interview. “Our plan is to continue to add more of these kinds of building blocks to the bank and to [customers’] financial stack.”

Competitively speaking, the moves pit Mercury up against fintech companies beyond just Brex and Ramp such as Navan, Airbase and Mesh Payments, as well as incumbents such as Bill.com, which also offers an invoicing solution.

In particular, it positions Mercury in even more direct competition with Brex, which also offers bank accounts, corporate cards, bill pay and expense reimbursement. The two companies were among the fintechs that benefited the most when Silicon Valley Bank imploded in 2023 — although Brex’s growth surge was reported to have stalled some last year.

Although Mercury is well-known in the startup world and that’s the group it started out serving, Akhund says that startups today make up less than 40% of its customer base as the company has diversified over the years. Other segments it serves are e-commerce, life sciences and investors, among others. Ramp CEO and co-founder Eric Glyman recently told TechCrunch that venture-backed startups represent a “minority” of its customer base. Brex meanwhile initially focused more on startups before announcing a push into the enterprise and its own foray into software, then a de-emphasis on smaller businesses, and then later a renewed commitment to startups.

New workflows

With the advanced bill pay software, customers will be able to pay bills directly from their bank accounts with features such as AI populating bill details, duplicate bill detection and the ability to approve payments on mobile and via Slack.

Previously, Mercury business customers could make payments to vendors and it’s had pieces of the bill pay feature for a while, including optical character recognition (OCR) of invoices, “but it didn’t address the fuller workflow of bill pay in a way that would completely replace third-party bill pay tools for larger customers,” the company said.

On top of that, the company is also now providing accounting automations, including a new NetSuite integration, that will allow for things like categorizing and syncing bills and expenses when they are initiated. 

This summer, Mercury will also offer businesses the ability to build professional invoices, allow customers to pay with credit cards or directly from their bank (via ACH) and the ability to send automated invoice reminders. They also will be able to set up reimbursement policies and monitor spend.

The new software “includes the ability to establish finer approval controls and accounting integrations so all invoice activity is automatically recorded properly,” the company told TechCrunch. “So we’re launching with more of the business enterprise resource planning (ERP)-type features built on top of the money movement aspects of bill pay that we already had.”

Access to the new workflows is free until August 1. After that, the company will offer a variety of paid plans depending on the size of a company and its needs — ranging from $35 to $350 a month.

Like other digital banks, Mercury is not itself a bank. It provides banking services through partners Choice Financial Group and Evolve Bank & Trust. It began offering a corporate credit card about 18 months ago.

Square alum Dan Kang, who serves as Mercury’s VP of finance, said that the types of customers that Mercury has makes the company ripe for offering additional products.

“It’s not just that people are parking money in Mercury post-SVB,” he told TechCrunch, noting that the finance team at Mercury itself has been beta testing all the new products. “They’re actually really using this to operate their business.”

The expansion into software is not the only branching out that Mercury has done as of late. The startup also recently expanded into personal banking. Besides earning revenue off of interchange fees and the interest rate spread, Mercury will make money through that new offering by charging users an annual subscription fee of $240 upon the first deposit.

The moves all come at an interesting time for Mercury, which made headlines earlier this year for being the target of federal scrutiny around its practice of allowing foreign companies to open accounts through one of its partners, Choice Bank, according to a report by The Information.

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