UOB partners with cloud accounting firm Xero to ease SMEs’ bookkeeping woes

By Yong Heong Tung for E27

Xero’s small business customers under UOB can now automatically send transactions to cloud, and do away with downloading statements manually

Singapore-based SMEs who use cloud accounting software Xero and bank with UOB will now enjoy streamlined bookkeeping services.

Today, the company announced it has struck a partnership with UOB. The integration will allow the SMEs to seamlessly integrate their bank accounts with Xero and have their bank transactions sent automatically from UOB to Xero every day through a secure connection.

SME can also manage cashflow better – they are able to check which customers have paid their bills overnight, and which bills from suppliers they need to pay. In addition, they no longer have to manually download financial statements and import them into their Xero subscription every month.

This marks Xero’s official launch in Singapore.

Prior to this, the 10-year-old New Zealand Exchange (NZX) and Australian Securities Exchange-listed company has partnered with over 80 other global financial institutions including HSBC, National Australia Bank, Barclays and Wells Fargo.

Based in New Zealand, 717,000 businesses in more than 180 countries including the UK, Australia and New Zealand subscribe to its platform, with 242,000 added in the last twelve months. In Asia, the biggest customers are in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and the Philippines. Xero claims a revenue of NZS$259 million (US$187.5 million) annually with a YoY increase of 62 per cent.

Why SMEs should switch to cloud accounting

“Many small businesses face real challenges accessing the bank financing they need to expand and grow because banks can find it difficult to assess SME credit risks based on out-of-date accounting information kept in legacy accounting systems,” says Alex Campbell, Managing Director of Xero’s Asia operations, in an email interview with e27.

As businesses grow, legacy accounting systems — be it manual or traditional desktop-based — are ill-equipped to meet the demands of large accounts management. This often leads to multiple disparate systems to manage accounting, payroll, HR, sales and inventory, and makes it difficult for business owners to run their operations effectively.

Campbell says Xero’s cloud accounting framework solves this pain point as the design allows it to be sensitive to shifts in SMEs’ balance sheets and cashflow, helping them to monitor financial performance in real-time and plan ahead for their outgoings.

“Using a single online ledger, Xero brings together everything accountants and bookkeepers need to record client information in a beautiful way and collaborate in real time to make sure the accounts are always up to date and correct…Xero automates many basic functions, freeing up SMEs’ time for the things that matter and making their work easier and faster,” says Campbell.

Xero has over 500 cloud accounting apps in its ecosystem, in part due to its open API access. This means partnering developers in the ecosystem can build upon its software to integrate accounting solutions without building their own from scratch.

They include big companies global payments platform PayPal as well as startups including inventory management company TradeGecko and e-commerce solutions Shopify.

For business owners mulling whether to make the jump to cloud, Campbell has this to say: “At Xero we’re working really hard to make it easier for small businesses running on legacy systems to move to Xero. If your current legacy system can export its data to Excel (which it should be able to) then it’s easy for this to be imported into Xero.”

One more step in the digitalisation of SMEs.

First appeared at e27