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Thursday, 03 June 2010 14:54

Online accounting clouds balloon

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The cloud based market for accounting software is about to hot up with New Zealand's Xero signing an exclusive marketing deal with the ANZ Bank just as arch rival MYOB prepares to edge its way into the cloud.

Xero has for almost a year offered its cloud based accounting systems in Australia via Telstra's T-Suite, but the company's founder and CEO Rod Drury today acknowledged that the challenge remained getting the software out in front of potential users. From early in the new financial year ANZ will market the software to its 450,000 small business clients.

Telstra currently offers three levels of Xero access starting at $29 a month. Drury said ANZ's pricing was still being developed, but he did anticipate some special deals.

MYOB meanwhile continues to beta test its Live Accounts cloud based service, which is expected to go live in a matter of weeks. Again, pricing has not yet been revealed.

While Xero is only offered on a cloud or Software as a Service based model, MYOB is planning to give users the option of on premise or cloud based solutions. Last month it released a survey showing that only 22 per cent of small and medium businesses favoured cloud based accounting systems.

While MYOB is by far the more established organisation, Xero does have MYOB founder Craig Winkler as a major shareholder and a growing footprint of users. Established around three years ago and listed on the NZ Stock Exchange, Xero now has 17,000 clients, with several thousand based in Australia according to Drury.


He added that Xero (which is hosted in a data centre in Texas, in the US) is currently able to take bank feeds from the ANZ, NAB and Commonwealth Bank and integrate those directly into the accounting systems to provide businesses with automatic real time updates of their financial situation. It does not yet have a facility to take Westpac or St George data feeds however.

According to Nick Reade, ANZ general manager small business; 'We know that managing cash flow is one of the main issues for small businesses. The integration of Xero's software provides our customers with a simple and convenient solution to manage their cash flow and provide greater transparency around trading performance.'

Drury said Xero was working with Yodlee, an online banking aggregator, and from July would be able to accept feeds from a much wider range of financial services providers including some of the smaller financial institutions in Australia.


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