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Business to Government Innovation Workshop

We teamed up with Inland Revenue, Westpac and MBIE to host a two-day innovation session to explore and identify digital services that could reduce the cost and transform the way business and Government interact in the future and bring it to life.

An illustration done by Gavin Blake, Fever Picture during the session:

03_Rod Drury

The workshop involved leaders of information exchange programs, CEOs, CTOs and CIOs from Government, Business and ICT Community, all with a goal of making it easier and cost-effective for all customers to do business with Government.

Here’s a video so you can see what it was all about:

 

Next generation banking a reality

Over the past year or so we’ve been working on our vision for next generation banking. We’ve spoken about this a number of times before – but now, thanks to our friends at ASB and TSB Bank, it’s a reality.

Accounting software and internet banking should be complementary.  At its heart, Xero is about financial awareness, insight, and decision-making. Internet banking is about taking financial action and managing your money.

With customer consent, data could flow between the two worlds – making each product that much more useful.  Transactional data comes into Xero from the bank, where it’s processed and reconciled, and if a customer wishes, financial data could be passed back to the bank for a variety of services: for payments; for a loan application; or for sign up to additional services.

The video shows some of the outcomes of our next gen banking work, illustrated through our integration with ASB.  Data can be sent to Xero quickly and easily, and conversely, payment instructions can be pushed back to the bank for authorisation. In the old world – you would manually download data and upload into Xero, or at best, complete a paper application form and send to us for processing.  With this approach, your feeds are set up instantly and securely.  Similarly, there’s no batch payment files to be downloaded and uploaded into internet banking – they’re sent through frictionlessly.

Watch Steve Jurkovich from ASB talking at Xerocon Auckland 2014 about how the cloud is changing banking and how ASB is embracing new opportunities through its work with Xero.

Banks are conservative organisations, and so they should be, they’re handling your money.  But a great deal of innovation for banks can come through collaboration. It would be very difficult for any bank to meet all the needs of its diverse population of customers with the vast plurality of products that would be required. They can’t possibly replicate all the Mints, the Billguards, the SigFigs, the Bill.coms, the Expensifys, the Dwollas, and the hundreds of other services out there that have blossomed throughout the fintech ecosystem and that people have come to rely on.  Safe and secure collaboration with established partners like Xero acts as a multiplier or an accelerator to a bank’s desirability to its customers.

Watch out for more banks introducing support for next generation banking soon. Or maybe consider switching to one that already does. The future is bright for those that have.

UPDATE:  If you’re a FastNet Business customer who’s already set up feeds by sending in a paper form, you can still activate direct payment link.  Find the Accounting Setup section in FastNet Business under Administration > Client, and select ‘Automatically Import Payments’ against the accounts you want to make payments from. Follow the process to connect up the feeds, and the next time you create a batch payment file, it will automatically be sent to FastNet Business. Easy.

What people are saying

And it works. Here’s what people are saying about this new generation of banking:

 

The changing face of business leadership in Australia

Last week I attended a roundtable breakfast with five other CEOs from a range of prominent organisations to discuss the changing face of business leadership in Australia. The event was chaired by (Fairfax) BOSS Magazine Editor, Joanne Gray and I was joined by:

  • Matt Barrie, CEO, Freelancer;
  • Peter Birtles, Managing Director and CEO, Super Retail Group;
  • Kate Burleigh, CEO, Intel;
  • Bill Pulver, CEO, Australian Rugby Union; and
  • Ann Sherry, CEO, Carnival Australia

The discussion centred on a range of topics from a recent whitepaper written by Change2020, a management consulting firm in Sydney that specialises in leadership, business, culture development and change management.

Continue reading ›

 

Guest blog: Why my business accepts bitcoin and why yours should too

Guest blog by Ryan Lazanis, CPA, CA of Xen Accounting, Montreal

bitcoin accepted here

Bitcoin is a pretty hot topic right now, and for some, it’s a bit mysterious and controversial. How can we have a global virtual currency that’s completely decentralized and completely unregulated? A type of money that isn’t controlled or regulated by any bank or government is enough to make some people uneasy, that is until you learn more about what bitcoin is and how it works. It’s one of the smartest, most forward-thinking innovations of our generation, and it might just reshape the way we do business.

What is bitcoin?

Continue reading ›

 

San Francisco Xero product hackathon

At Xero, we’re so committed to innovation that we host a product hackathon every quarter for our San Francisco product teams. These allow ideas from our team to get the chance to move from an idea to working prototypes.

We hold two types of hackathon events in our San Francisco office. Our HackIt events last a few days and are focused on innovative ideas with few rules attached. Our ShipIt events give the team the chance to work on something that they want to improve but it must be delivered, ready for release, after two days. It’s understood that there’s no obligation on Xero to ship any of the projects. However, it’s a way of generating ideas that we can use for planning future work on the products.

Hackathon payroll product team

San Francisco Xero Product team

The winners of our hackathon last week in San Francisco was the Xero Achievers. They worked on the gamification of payroll using badges and Facebook integration. We also had teams working a new tax engine, automated timesheet check in/out using a mobile app, a new architecture framework, a goal tracking app, a conversion tool, hotkey navigations, and an on-screen calculator. It was a great few days, with lots of passion, collaboration, discussions and of course nerf gun battles.

HackIt Hackathon Winners

Xero Achievers Hackathon Winners

What is a hackathon?

hackathon is where there is free rein to work on projects the team think will be useful, innovative or cool. Our events kick off with a traditional hot American breakfast to keep the energy levels high for the day. Then, the fun begins.

Regularly scheduled work takes a back seat while the team build, code and hack away on something that interests them – whether it’s an issue they want to solve, a process they’d love to improve, or something completely random they want to try. They’re encouraged to think outside of the box and they have the chance to collaborate with other team members they may not normally work with.

There’s a few key reasons why we do these events:

  • Thinking out of the box – gives an opportunity for those radical ideas that would never be prioritized.

  • Fostering innovation – If there are no constraints then anything is possible.

  • Enjoying work – Culture is a huge part of working here and these hackathons help to make Xero a great, fun, place to work.

These hackathons embody our company culture of creativity, challenging the norm and having fun whilst we do it. Giving our teams the freedom to work on whatever they want for a couple of days keeps them on their toes and challenges them, both creatively and technically. We believe that being surrounded by innovative ideas helps develop new ones, and pushes us to think outside the box.

Already started thinking about a project you’d work on? If you think you might be a good fit for the Xero team, head on over to our careers page to apply for an open position!

 

Switching from MYOB to Xero in Australia is free and easy

During our February Roadshow, we announced we were offering free conversions from MYOB to Xero for Bronze and above certified partners. It was a well-received announcement – the room erupted into applause! We know that one of the biggest obstacles our partners have in moving their clients over to Xero are conversions, so we wanted to provide them with a service that would be easy, automated, and best of all, free.

We are happy to announce that for applicable partners in Australia free conversions from MYOB  to Xero started today. Jet Convert has managed thousands of conversions and is ready to scale with its automated service. Hear from Alexander and the team at Jet Convert on our conversions page and start moving clients on to Xero today.

 

Building your mental model

img from indiafuturesociety.orgOur good buddy Greg over at Rightway posted on about Insight Seeing things others can’t see on the Rightway blog.

It got me pondering  how I think about strategy and making decisions.

I read many years ago, I remember it was back in Sugarland Texas in the early 90′s actually, a few parables that have stuck with me over years.

Preparation lets you take advantage of opportunity

and

It takes a year to become an expert on something

Becoming an expert in something is as simple as reading widely on a subject to get up to speed and then monitoring news and events about things that happen in that area. This can seem daunting at the beginning, but over time you begin to develop a model, or belief system about how things work.

Over time you gain confidence in your model. When events occur you think ‘I knew that would happen’ and after a while you can publicly make predictions. If you’re an entrepreneur you eventually start to bet on those models and can be rewarded for being right.

As each new fact appears you test it against your model.  The fact either confirms your model or challenges it. I love it when I find things that are inconsistent with my models. As an example when companies put out numbers that don’t feel right I love to dive deep to find out why that is? Why doesn’t it fit? Do I learn something new or have I found a misleading statement?

I love debating points with our team, because good discussion tests your model and makes you justify assumptions. I always learn things when others argue from a new perspective which tunes the model up further.

News on the Internet and especially news feeds (RSS)  have seen the number of facts you see multiplied substantially. I think that has accelerated testing and development of my mental models. I’ve been in technology for 27 years and have seen the big patterns many times. I’ve been reading RSS news feeds for over 10 years and active on the tech twitter stream so there’s not much tech news that gets by me. Each new fact I apply against my models, maybe hundreds per day. It’s not a conscious thing and it’s not onerous as I enjoy reading tech news.

To outsiders, entrepreneurs might look like they make big and bold decisions.  But to the entrepreneur that works this way you have simply gained confidence in your models. Perhaps it looks like insight but I think it’s more that  over time you’ve developed confidence in your own judgment and making a big decision is a simple and logical step.

Xero is like that for me. The move to the cloud felt obvious. The small business opportunity was clear and what we need to do to win feels pretty straight forward. It’s not arrogance, just confidence that you can see it all play out.

Our challenge to make sure we share the vision  through the team and empower our people to go as fast as they can.

So that describes how I think. Does that resonate or do others have different ways of thinking they can share?

 

Australian Financial Review – video on Square and Xero’s new integration

Following our announcement on April 1 about our US integration with Square Inc., the Australian Financial Review posted a video on what the deal means for Xero in the Australian market, and the impact it will have on competitor accounting software providers.

Check out the video and read the article in full here.

 

 

 

Singapore wins silver in global entrepreneurship

Guest Author: Anthony Coundouris, Director of Sales and Marketing at Future Books. 

Hot on the tail of the most powerful startup hub, Silicon Valley, Singapore was ranked #2 globally in terms of total entrepreneurial activity, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2012 Report.

Now, this piqued our interest, so we decided to survey our clients (mostly in the food and beverage, tech and consulting industries) to find out what makes them tick.

We completed this study on Singapore startups in January 2014. A random sample of 242 businesses located within a four kilometre radius of Singapore’s CBD were drawn. 95% of the sample were private limited companies, incorporated sometime during 2012/13.

Controlling interest

Owners and directors, or control, were split evenly between foreigners and locals, except in the instances of food and beverage. Food and beverage saw a larger proportion of local control.

 Foreign and local split between startups

50% of directors and shareholders of food and beverage companies were either blood relation or married couples.

Continue reading ›

 

Get time back with Square and Xero’s new integration

To us payments geeks, when Square launched, it just made sense. A simple, elegant solution to small merchants’ credit and debit card acceptance problem? How come I didn’t think of that?!

Square actually solves more pain points for small merchants than meets the eye. Complicated fee structures, expensive hardware and merchant account underwriting requirements were the norm for many years. These archaic demands made it impossible for many small businesses to even qualify, let alone afford a merchant account. Not only did Square remove all of these issues, they did it via a tiny piece of plastic and customer cell phones. In short, Square effectively democratized payments for the small guys, giving every person in the US with a mobile phone access to a point of sale system!

I’ve been a Square fan since the early days and am thrilled to finally offer its merchants an integrated accounting solution that does the heavy lifting for them. Other combined payments and accounting solutions just dump raw data on users. But Square and Xero work together in lock step – intelligently sorting transactional data and building an accurate view of accrual balances. A once tedious process is now made simple with Square and Xero.

To get a taste of how the integration works, check out our video:

With this integration, Xero will automatically sync all of the previous day’s transaction data from Square, summarize it and create an aggregated transaction in Xero – allocating any payments, refunds, fees and sales taxes to the appropriate account. Sellers and small businesses can now save time, which was previously spent manually inputting sales.

Using this approach, Xero will keep track of the money Square owes you while breaking out all Square fees, tips and refunds. In addition to credit card receivables, Xero can also help keep track of cash receipts. Using auto-generated bank rules, each bank deposit from Square will be matched with outstanding receivables using a settlement account methodology.  This will also allow for importing of historical transaction data from Square, and quick and easy bulk coding of multiple daily summaries.

We are thrilled to announce this partnership, and hope you enjoy the time that Square and Xero together give back to you.

Xero customer, Andy Ciordia of The Secret Chocolatier is especially excited about the integration. “I used to spend my Sunday afternoons manually dragging, dropping and categorizing my weekly Square transactions into Xero,” says Andy. “This integration gives me my weekends back – I have more time for my family and my business.”

Want to learn more about Square point of sale software for retailers?