How accounting solutions that ‘cost less than a pizza’ can drive growth
SO you’re a small business somewhere in Southeast Asia and because you’re constantly on the go, keeping track of your finances has proved to be quite a struggle.
You’re in the early stages of the game and you’ve hired several staff members, but don’t have the budget to recruit a full-time accountant. Amidst all that, you just can’t seem to get virtual invoices, receipts, and tax filings in order.
Accounting can be a laborious task and many companies tend to hire independent accounting firms to take these issues out of the hands of executives looking to focus on steering the company.
Accounting softwares have begun proliferating all across the tech scene and in recent years have become popular with startups looking to cut labor costs and save time. Today’s softwares come equipped with the latest in artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, which have the added advantage of reducing human errors.
Financio was set up with the start-up, micro and small business in mind, and was developed by Asian Business Software Solutions Sdn Bhd (ABSS) in order to give the average Joe with zero accounting skills what they need to succeed.
To narrow them down further, the firm’s chief executive ofﬁcer Paul Conway said they usually fell under a few camps – the first being start-ups or small businesses with no requirement for a massive and overbearing accountancy package. These users normally employ fewer than 20 people and normally have to create between five and 200 invoices a month.
Since its launch in Malaysia in March, the cloud-based software has gained over 4,300 users and the number is rising fast. Conway told Tech Wire Asia the subscription base could grow up to 125,000 users all around Southeast Asia by next March.
Southeast Asia is prime real estate for accounting technology as the region is highly unbanked and lacking in such professional services. By opening up the industry, accounting tech firms can leverage on the high demand for financial services such as those provided by Financio. Conway said users were typically those with universal accountancy needs to create invoices, were compliant with regulations, and had good bookkeeping and business practices.
Asia is a region of with disparate and complex regulatory landscapes. Accounting software helps companies comply with different standards across international borders through artificial intelligence and blockchain technology.
Accounting as a profession survives because of high barriers of entry. There is significant information asymmetry between laypeople and trained accountants to ensure consumers keep coming back to accounting firms for their specialized services in order to stay on top of their accounts and compliance.
Technology has always been about disrupting these barriers to entry and democratizing such information, a philosophy at the heart of Financio’s business.
“Financio makes it easy,” Conway said, adding while there were other similar products designed to help small-to-medium enterprises with the accountancy and day-to-day operational needs, Financio is a platform that caters to the needs of the region.
“It’s completely designed with business language in mind rather than accountancy language and it even works on mobile devices,” he said.
Accounting tech is also super affordable. Many services such as Xero, Crunch and Zipbooks all function off subscription packages that usually cost a fraction of what an accountant would charge.
Admittedly, in-person accountants would have more know-how to deal with complex transactions and larger companies, but small startups won’t need that kind of capacity and the software subscription fees are low.
“It costs less than a pizza,” Conway said.
“And it’s proven to be popular as you can run all your accounts anywhere you want by using the software in different locations.”
Financio, like many technologies of the future, comes complete with automated processes that make it easy to track sales, purchases and transactions with little hassle and human error. It also carries multi-currency support, real time backup, Malaysian GST support, ﬁle storage for attachments to transactions and, because it is Cloud-based, can be accessed from anywhere.
“We have had a lot of sole traders – being start-up micro-businesses – interested in this software,” he said.
“Some of them are technology companies and some are in food and beverage. We’ve also had distributors employing a couple of people and who want to keep accurate records,”
The beauty of the system, Conway said, is that users can create invoices in under two minutes. The software also has a feature called “Financio Connect”, which allows businesses to connect with each other, similar to social media websites. Once a connection between two businesses has been established, it acts as a communications platform and aims at allowing seamless transactions.
Conway said while Financio was currently available for Malaysian users, the software was soon expected to cater to users in Singapore, Philippines and Hong Kong.