National Australia Bank (NAB) plans to service its small business customers better as part of a new partnership with cloud-based accounting software provider Xero.
From May 2015, NAB small business customers will be able to instantly access Xero's cloud accounting environment via the NAB internet banking function.
This means NAB customers using Xero will be able to set up their bank feeds online and receive real-time confirmation in both NAB's internet banking platform and Xero, as well as have real-time visibility of their cash flow.
According to Adam Bennett, NAB executive general manager digital and direct banking, this will limit the amount of time that small businesses and their accountants spend entering data and filing paperwork.
"Small businesses will no longer have to wait up to 10 days to have their bank accounts connected to their accounting software, with all of the work being done for them instantly," he said.
NAB is the first Australian bank with core application programming interface technology able to link to Xero's ecosystems.
Xero Australia managing director Chris Ridd said the partnership will also allow customers to benefit from services including NAB product and lending enquiries accessible within Xero.
"Ever since we introduced bank feeds in Xero eight years ago, our customers have loved the ability to link their bank accounts with their online accounting software to get a better view of their cash flow," he said.
"Now Xero customers who bank with National Australia Bank will get best-in-market direct bank feeds, making it much easier to track finances and help their business succeed."
The effort by NAB to service its small business customers is similar to those previously seen by the company's major competitors. Mid last year, Commonwealth Bank introduced its CommBank Small Business app to enable its small business customers to accept on-the-spot payments, create estimates and invoices instantly, and manage their cash flow.
Similarly, Westpac rolled out its Mobile PayWay platform during 2014 to enable business customers to use their mobile devices as a merchant terminal.
Earlier this year, St George Bank launched MyBusinessConnect, a platform of cloud-based applications targeted at helping small businesses and startups run their business more efficiently.