Who reads all those online receipts?

Ask an Economist

There is a huge trend in uploading personal receipts to various apps, either for fundraising or rebates. Moreover, businesses are uploading invoices and such to be processed digitally for cost analysis. Who reads these receipts and invoices? Is it being done through automated technology or are there low-wage workers in India doing this for hours on end? I'm not sure how I feel about supporting technology that creates horrible, repetitive, and invisible jobs in other countries. I feel like we continually take advantage of workers in developing countries.


Some of it is read by computers and some by humans. An online marketplace like Amazon's Mechanical Turk, employs millions around the world (including the U.S.) to work on these tasks at wages of 5 cents an invoice. The argument can be made that no one is "taking advantage of workers in developing countries" because those workers can choose to participate or not. And for many people, it is quick money and $20 a day can be seriously good income in a country where the average person lives on $2 a day. This is democratization of work, viewed in one way.

Answered by:
Last updated on May 27, 2019