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App Watch on Xero, OnDeck and Neat

Jun 13th 2016
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Welcome back to another edition of App Watch, our (mostly) weekly roundup of goings on in the world of accounting-related applications and services. This week our focus is on Xero, OnDeck, and Neat – all of whom had noteworthy enhancements, in one form or another, to their offerings over the past week or so.

For those who are unfamiliar, this column does not exist to break any news nor regurgitate press releases from the vendor community. App Watch is, however, a weekly snapshot of product vendor and service provider news as it pertains or is of potential interest to accounting professionals and their clients. We also provide a bit of additional insight into what the news means, or could mean, to you and your clients.

Hope you’re all set because we have a few more than usual to get through, and get through we will. OK, here we go:

News: Xero Inks Partnership with Wells Fargo

Xero is now integrated with Wells Fargo, a top bank serving more than three million small businesses and one in three households in the United States. The deal creates a business relationship between the two companies and creates a data-sharing platform for Wells Fargo small business customers who use Xero’s accounting software to manage their finances. The new method of data sharing is driven by an API designed to create a secure, tokenized “handshake” between the companies’ servers. It is similar in many respects to how some websites allow customers to log in with popular social media accounts. The API eliminates the need for Xero customers to share their Wells Fargo usernames and passwords, and the need for Xero to store them in order to retrieve Wells Fargo account data.

Views: There’s a lot of components of this deal to comment on, the most obvious being an integration with the fourth largest bank in the country. APIs are what they are, in the best of cases they provide a necessary workaround to connect data and programs so they do actually work in tandem. Without getting too technical, the main thing to focus on here is that Xero in the U.S. is, by and large, still a relative unknown among accountants. There are plans to change that, but in the meantime any accounting software’s worth is increased when you have true bank integrations. Xero is an international company and had bank relationships with some of the largest in their other key markets. In the U.S., Xero also has relationships with Silicon Valley Bank and City National Bank, with more in the works, but this deal in particular should give them a welcome boost in the small business community and, perhaps the accountants that serve them.

News: OnDeck Expands Outreach to Accountants

Online small business lender OnDeck has expanded of its Accountant Advisor Program with the hiring of new OnDeck Accountant Relationship Managers in Louisville, Kentucky, Miami, and Mobile, Alabama. The new hires will join a growing national team of OnDeck Accountant Relationship Managers who work directly with CPAs and the accounting community to bring value to their clients' small businesses through OnDeck's financing solutions. The Accountant Advisor Program from OnDeck is designed to help accounting professionals meet a significant need their clients face: access to capital. Key benefits for small business clients include: loans up to $500,000 with 3-36 month terms and lines of credit up to $100,000; annual interest rates as low as 5.99% for select customers; and funding in as fast as 1 business day. OnDeck will conduct free webinars throughout the summer to help the accounting community better understand the evolving landscape of small business financing.

Views: I’ve been seeing more of this type of outreach lately, with the small business lending community reaching out to accountants to, essentially try to endorse their service or at the very least make them aware so their clients can have some lending options. While on the surface the efforts seem relevant and, perhaps useful. But one thing any of the purveyors of these “accountant programs” need to be regularly aware of is accountants at their core are not salespeople. In fact, any indication that they may be selling or required to (even if they actually aren’t) is not going to be met with open arms. Moreover, it may serve as more of a deterrent than a benefit to the vendor or service provider. This is not disparaging this or any of the programs, it’s just more of a heads up, really. Personally any of these accountant programs are at least worth investigating if it ultimately does mean benefiting your clients. Just know that it’s not likely any accountant ever lost their job over not referring enough software or services.

News: Neat Expands Product Offerings and Integrations

Neat, a document and expense management product company has expanded the capabilities of its NeatVerify service, enhanced scanning device capabilities, and improved product integrations -- particularly with QuickBooks Online. The NeatVerifty service now provides 99% accurate identification of key information for invoices. NeatVerify was previously available only for receipts and business cards. Neat’s recent product enhancements for its small business solutions include: Compatibility with third-party scanning devices – Neat is now compatible with all Fujitsu ScanSnap scanners as well as TWAIN devices (TWAIN referring to the type of driver that many scanners use). For QuickBooks Online, in addition to being able to map vendor, payment type, employee and category fields with Neat, users can now also map items, classes and projects to better accommodate the needs of a broader set of small businesses. Neat can now also automatically identify the key information from a multiple page item after it’s emailed, imported or scanned into Neat.

Views: You may know Neat, you may not but if as accounting professionals you are managing any kinds of documents, particularly client expenses, they most certainly want you to be aware of them. And these days, any product worth its weight in the world of accounting and small business is only as good as its ability to work with what you and your clients are already using. On that note, if either of you have a ScanSnap or use QuickBooks Online, this is pretty good news. At the very least, enhancing your integration and expanding capabilities as one of the core functions as a small business or accountant (that being document and expense management) can’t be a bad thing. Until next week, we’re always open to your thoughts and opinions on these or any other products you’ve experienced.

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