This is a Financial Services innovation from The 70 Best Trend-Driven Innovations of 2019.

Alice is a NYC-based startup that makes it easy for workers in the US to deduct allowable expenses from their taxable income. Tax laws in the US allow workers to deduct certain expenses – including commuting to work, child care and some healthcare – from their taxable income. But this benefit can be complex to set up, and many hourly, temporary and low-paid workers don’t get it. Alice syncs to an employer’s payroll and an employee’s bank cards, and analyses employee spending. It sends a text message whenever it flags an allowable expense, and then auto-adjusts the payroll so that the expense is claimed. Alice say that workers who use their service claim back an average of USD 583 a year.

Very clever, Alice. What’s more, this innovation is sitting at the intersection of two huge directions of travel in business and consumerism:

Automation nation. According to latest figures around 80 million people in the US are paid at hourly rates; think jobs in food preparation and serving, retail, and construction. We’re used to the idea that automation is set to sweep millions of these sorts of jobs away. Alice flips the picture, leveraging an automated service to put money in the pockets of low-paid workers. The broader lesson? Amid the current techlash, any business that proves tech can be used for human good will win kudos and customers.

GLASS BOX thinking. Alice reminds us of previous IoTD example Goodly, a startup that helps employers offer student loan repayment as a workplace benefit. Both Alice and Goodly make it easy for employers to do good things for their employees. And in a world in which customers are increasingly mindful of the internal culture of the businesses they choose to engage with, that’s a powerful move. So what new employee benefit could you offer? And how could that become the most powerful story you tell in 2019 about the values that your organization stands for?

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