Xero to add BPay and other new tools for businesses and accountants

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Xero to add BPay and other new tools for businesses and accountants
Trent Innes delivers Xerocon South keynote.

The cloud platform is introducing BPay payments and more bank feeds, plus an app marketplace for accountants and an accounting practice directory.

Xero is set to add direct daily bank feeds from another 40 financial institutions and introduce support for BPay payments, while a new app marketplace and directory for accountants and business advisors set to launch shortly. 

The new facilities for both business owners and practices are among a host of upcoming features that were unveiled by the cloud accounting provider during the keynote speech at its annual Xerocon South conference in Brisbane. 

New features for businesses 

The big news for business owners and bookkeepers using the platform is support for BPay both to pay suppliers, and to charge customers. 

The features will be integrated directly within Xero's platform, while small businesses will be able to offer BPay as a payment option using Macquarie Bank's DEFT product. 

The cloud accounting company said it will work with other companies to grow the number of payment providers offering payments through the platform in the future. 

The feature is designed to make it easier for businesses to pay their bills and to receive payments quickly, easing cashflow challenges. 

The other important new feature for Australian business owners and entrepreneurs is the number of banks and financial institutions offering direct daily feeds will be boosted by 40 within the next nine months. 

This will mean a total of 100 financial institutions will soon offer the direct daily feeds facility, including 43 smaller regional banks and credit unions. 

"Xero feeds are 100 percent daily. Our nearest competitor in this space is 50 percent daily. Small businesses don't run monthly – they run daily – and need 100 percent daily bank feeds," Xero Australia managing director Trent Innes told the conference. 

"We have the best coverage of the big four, and we have the best products. It's not just about having the most providers, it's about the depth of information you can go into." 

For accounting practices and advisors

For accounting practices and business advisors, Xero also unveiled new details about its Xero HQ platform, which will replace My Xero and contain an app marketplace for practice tools.  

"Xero HQ replaces My Xero, and it's an open practice platform. What that means is it will give you the best of breed tools that you want to use specifically for your business that you can create with our app partners," Xero NZ managing director Anna Curzon told the conference. 

"In the same way we created an amazing app marketplace for small businesses, you're going to have an amazing app marketplace for your practice tools. 

"You're going to get everything you had with My Xero and so much more. Because we have a single ledger at the heart of our platform, there's a real opportunity to leverage data to gather more customer insights than ever before." 

Xero anticipates the app marketplace will lead to an ecosystem of integrated tools emerging for practices, adding a range of additional content and document management across its practice-focused packages. 

"We're integrating [Xero HQ], so it's going to be fantastic for everyone that's already using Xero Practice Manager, Tax and Work Papers because they'll all be available through one single platform," Curzon said. 

"These platforms will still be a focus for us, and they always will be, but because we created Xero HQ as an open practice platform, we'll allow others to build new tools as a curated ecosystem." 

One of the central features of Xero HQ will be a centralised list of clients for all users, including the ability to drill down into the list based on industry, apps or the banks that clients use. 

"[You'll be able to] see all of our clients in one place, even if you're on Xero Practice Manager," Curzon said. 

"What we've done is pulled this together so you can slice and dice your customer base and use this information as an asset... You'll be able to understand which of your customers are using which banks, [and] which are your top two industries. 

The other major feature of Xero HQ will be activity feeds, which will allow practices to view which clients need attention in a manner similar to Facebook's newsfeed. 

"Activity feeds can be personalised down to a team member within your practice, so what will appear is clients that need a bank lines reconciled, BAS statements filed, or if you've had work papers assigned to you," Curzon said. 

"All of these things will appear for you so you can say 'I need to ring this customer and have a discussion about the GST or this work paper'." 

Accounting practice directory 

Information collected in Xero HQ will automatically flow through into a revitalised practice directory, which Curzon promised would be "the most comprehensive directory for accountants and bookkeepers globally".  

"What we've found is we have 20,000 small businesses accessing our directory each month looking for help," Curzon said 

"What we're going to do is pour gas on this directory, and make sure we're able to hook them up with the right advisors with the right industry knowledge and the right app knowledge." 

The directory will be designed to make it easy for business owners to find local accountants and advisors. 

"What we'll do is connect you to more customers in your local area. So, for example, if you're in Wellington, Perth, Brisbane or a Singapore and you're a small business client, we'll allow you to go into this directory and bring up all the advisors around you," Curzon said. 

"You'll be able to edit and publish information about your staff and practice through Xero HQ, all your achievements and credentials can be displayed. It's a really great way to distinguish your firm against others." 

Andrew Sadauskas travelled to Xerocon South as a guest of Xero.

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