Friday, 22 August 2014 14:46

Xero takes it up to competitors with doubling of customer numbers Featured

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New Zealand-based, global online accounting software company Xero is shouting from the rooftops about its performance in the Australian market, claiming an ‘explosion’ in customer numbers to 147,000 businesses using its software, up from 109,000 in March.

Putting competitor companies on notice in the increasingly aggressive fight for marketshare across the Australia-New Zealand region, Xero Australia managing director Chris Ridd told the company’s partner conference in Sydney today that customer numbers had almost doubled in the past 12-months and there had been over $54 billion in transactions by businesses using the Xero platform in Australia alone.

Ridd said the growth in customer numbers to 147,000 compared to just 75,000 paying customers announced at the same conference in August last year. This year’s Xerocon conference is being attended by 1,300 paying attendees and 82 exhibitors.

“These numbers demonstrate our leadership position in the industry which is enabling us to influence banks, technology partners, and Government,” Ridd told the conference.

“Working in partnership with such organisations is allowing Xero to evolve into a smarter and better connected financial services platform for small business which is providing enormous value to our customers and their advisors.”

Ridd announced a partnership with Telstra to promote the “benefits of cloud computing” to the telco’s small and medium business customers.

Under the partnership, from September, Telstra will be giving its business mobile customers the opportunity to experience the benefits of cloud computing first hand, by offering eligible customers a six-month free trial of Xero.

In addition to the collaboration with Telstra, Ridd announced a new partnership with CGU, part of the IAG Group which is Australia’s largest general insurer.

Ridd said CGU approached the Australian Xero team early this year “to understand how joint customers could use financial data in Xero to simplify the task of calculating insurance premiums for Workers’ Compensation.”

According to Ridd, by integrating with Xero’s open API, and with consent from the customer, CGU can seamlessly assess a business’ risk and calculate appropriate coverage by interrogating financial data in Xero.

“Workers Compensation is just the first in a series of product developments planned by CGU and Xero to simplify and streamline the important task of providing insurance cover for small businesses in Australia.”

Citing the accolade by Forbes magazine earlier this year heralding Xero as the ‘World’s most innovative company’, Ridd said since then the company’s development team in Australia had grown to over 50, and is “helping to increase the velocity of feature development for Xero globally.”

“Xero is also reaching significant scale, accounting for $54 billion in transactions in Australia alone. We processed over 10 million invoices in the last 12 months valued at $23.5 billion and 40% of those invoices were sent online. Xero also processed over $20 billion in payments, making the company a force in the financial services arena.”

Ridd also said Xero had transacted over one billion Australian dollars of monthly payroll for over 370,000 employees in the last financial year. “By making payroll compliance easier, we’re helping to free up employers to focus on growing their business.”

Ridd told the conference Xero was also engaged with Australian government agencies such as the ATO to allow businesses to complete compliance activities online, “developing an innovative online tax platform with teams in both Canberra and Melbourne.”

“Xero has now processed nearly 200,000 tax lodgements directly to the ATO via Standard Business Reporting (SBR). This has saved countless hours, thousands of printed forms, postage costs of around $100,000 and has significantly reduced the administrative burden for many small businesses.

According to Ridd, Xero is cutting red tape for SMEs by reducing paperwork such as completing and sending paper forms, allowing lodgement of reports after hours from anywhere, ensuring forms are correctly completed with built-in validations and checks, and providing businesses with confirmation once the report is filed and an audit trail for later checking.

“The developments we are seeing and driving in this space are exciting and offer a tremendous platform for the industry and government to work in parallel and provide substantial productivity enhancements to the SME sector,” Ridd said.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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