Nedbank and Xero encourage small businesses to embrace a new way to connect

Technological advancements are key for streamlining business operations in future.
Streamlining manual tasks using technology leaves more time to focus on growing the business. Image: Shutterstock

Now, more than ever, people need to work together to support small businesses so that they can recover, grow and thrive, as they are essential to growing the economy and creating employment opportunities. This is the view of Alan Shannon, Executive for Professional and Small-business Banking Client Engagement at Nedbank.

“A big part of this is making sure small to medium-sized business owners have the right tools, and especially digital tools, in an age where business functions are moving online and people are increasingly working remotely,” says Shannon.

His comments come as Nedbank partners with Xero, the global accounting software provider for small businesses, to launch a direct digital bank feed. This bank feed is a secure link between Nedbank clients’ bank accounts and their Xero account that automates the time-consuming task of manually inputting financial information.

“We are excited to be working together with Xero to bring this new feed to small businesses.

Acceleration of tech adoption 

I believe it’s safe to say that the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of tech adoption,” says Shannon.

“For instance, the logistical limitations that social distancing presents require us to think about what technology can enable. We have seen that more and more businesses are providing their services online. and data from different sources has shown that online sales have grown exponentially since a year ago when Covid-19 first hit SA,” says Shannon.

There is little doubt that the long and strict lockdown in SA compelled small businesses to adopt more advanced technologies and new ways of operating.

Colin Timmis, Xero’s Country Manager for South Africa, says that one positive that came from the crisis was that the restrictive regulations compelled small businesses to adopt more advanced technologies and new ways of working that they may not have considered yet. “The pandemic accelerated existing trends,” says Timmis.

“Our state of small business research shows that there has been a 50% increase in the adoption of cloud technology, such as cloud-based accounting and storage packages, among small businesses over the last three years. The research also found that 70% of business owners want technology to help remove repetitive, manual tasks,” says Timmis.

How it works

The relationship between Nedbank and Xero offers Nedbank clients a direct feed between their business’s bank accounts and their Xero account. The feed imports transactional data automatically into the accounting software through a secure API (application programming interface). This means they can track their cashflow in near-real time and reconcile transactions easily.

Shannon says that Nedbank and Xero share ‘quite a big’ community that can benefit by shifting from the current cumbersome way of working to the automated bank feed that makes a lot of the processes automatic.

“It’s great to see more businesses embrace new digital technology. It will be at the heart of businesses bouncing back from the pandemic.”

“Streamlining manual tasks using modern technology will leave more time for business owners to focus on the future of their business and give them the financial insights they need to invest confidently in the right areas for future growth,” continues Shannon.

Timmis points out that Xero is more than just accounting software.

It also allows small businesses and accountants to do the following:

  • Pay bills: Track and pay bills and get an overview of accounts payable and cashflow.
  • Claim expenses: Simplify employee expense claims, capture costs, submit, approve and reimburse claims, and view spending.
  • Track projects: Quote, invoice and get paid for jobs, and keep track of time, costs and project profitability.
  • Bank reconciliation: Business owners can keep their financials up to date and categorise bank transactions daily.
  • Contacts: Keep customer and supplier data, such as contact details, full transaction history, emails, invoices and payments.
  • Capture data: Import documents and key data automatically and eliminate the need to keep paper receipts.
  • Reporting: Track finances with accounting reports and collaborate with financial advisors online in real time.
  • Inventory: Manage inventory and keep track of what is in stock.
  • Send invoices: Send invoices from your phone or desktop as soon as a job is completed or goods are delivered.
  • Purchase orders: Create and send purchase orders online and keep track of orders and deliveries.
  • Vat returns: Calculate Vat on transactions automatically and prepare Vat returns according to Sars requirements. Xero will also be launching direct eFiling with Sars soon.

“It’s fair to say that accounting and creating financial records is not the core competence of many business owners, so using cloud technology and bank feeds enables an accurate and automated mechanism to produce the records that they are often at pains to produce manually,” says Shannon.

“Bank feeds are one of the greatest innovations in accounting, and their impact on small businesses globally has been incredible in recent years – they’ve reduced data entry and given businesses stronger visibility and control over its finances.

Bank feeds have also, as a consequence of frameworks like ‘open banking’, become more prevalent, providing secure, customer-consent- driven journeys, which ultimately put ownership of data back into the customer’s hands,” concludes Timmis.

Nedbank clients can try Xero at a discounted price. Find out more here.

Brought to you by Nedbank and Xero.

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