Emburse looks to give third-party developers ways to easily issue prepaid debit cards

Emburse launched in the Startup Battlefield last year seeking out businesses that wanted to handle one-time or a few expenses through issuing prepaid corporate debit cards. But it may be that the market, which is filled with a disparate different kinds of tools, needs a more generalized approach.

So to move beyond that, Emburse said it is opening up its service to integrate with other operations, such as building bots on Slack. With that, companies can spin up and issue prepaid cards through a number of other integrations without always having to come back to Emburse. In that way, Emburse can become a much more prolific service within traditional corporate environments and not just typical Silicon Valley early adopter companies.

“A lot of the valley are using common tools, whether it’s Slack or they’re using Greenhouse or Expensify,” co-founder Peter Lai said. “What we’re trying to do is make an addition. Once you build one integration you don’t have to do it multiple times, because we share a lot of mutual clients.”

Emburse works with banks and card-issuers to create custom pre-paid debit cards that can either be used one time or are refillable. But they are designed to be managed more rigorously through Emburse, so a finance team can keep close track of behavior.

One example use case of the new service, Lai said, would be to allow Greenhouse on behalf of recruiters to issue cards for travel and food while they are interviewing for a job. Another would be operating with a virtual assistant that might be booking flights, which users may not initially trust, Lai said.

There are, of course, competitors to Emburse. There are other companies in the space like PEX Card, and corporate card issues — who may become more sensitive to encroaching startups like Emburse — may start to take note and build similar tools. Many of these corporate card programs also offer a variety of perks to go with them. But if Emburse is able to hit the ground running first, as well as get the right partners on board with an easier user experience, then it might have a chance.

Emburse went through Y Combinator’s winter class last year and has raised $1.5 million in seed financing, and launched at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco last year.