New Zealand-based online accounting software company, Xero, is in talks with a number of Australian banks, including the big fours and a number of tier two banks, about the prospect of automating bank statement feeds through the cloud to help small business owners simplify work flow processes between accounting and banking.
Xero Australia managing director Chris Ridd said given that Xero has more than 100,000 customers in Australia, it was timely to bring its banking model to Australia to create a web-service integration relationship with local banks.
"Xero has kind of paved the way with regards to bank feeds with our accounting software going back some years now, and so from the outset we've always had the view of having direct partnerships with the bank for feeds with our accounting software where we were able to streamline that whole work flow process of bank reconciliation," he said.
With customer consent, the company noted that the platform could potentially allow data to flow between the two worlds of banking and accounting. If a customer wishes, financial data could be passed back to the bank for a variety of services: for payments; for a loan application; or for signing-up to additional services.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia's New Zealand subsidiary ASB Bank was the first bank to integrate Xero's platform with its FastNet Business. The cloud accounting model is the latest initiative between the two companies, which allows business owners to prepare payments in Xero and send them securely to FastNet Business, ready for the business owner to check and authorise, saving several hours per month.
Ridd said while each bank is doing their own thing, they have a common motivation that is high on their agenda, which is connecting banking and accounting together.
"I think they recognise they want to provide integrated and simplistic experiences for their clients," he said.
"Banks that aren't offering direct feeds have been prompted by feedback from customers who have previously used Xero, and want to have their direct feeds from their bank provider do the same. In some cases the banks have been forced into the integration, but many cases they're starting to see the opportunity in investing in web-based services."