- Errors in feeds from 1% of bank accounts a month
- Not possible to get feeds from all bank products
- Feeds used mainly by small and micro businesses
Data used to create bank feeds, a central sales pitch for cloud accounting software from Xero, Saasu and MYOB, regularly contained errors which showed up in 1 percent of bank accounts, said BankLink, an Australasian financial data aggregator.
Bank feeds were not supplied by the banks but were collected through various means by each company. While all companies had systems to catch these errors, bookkeepers and accountants were still checking balances against online or paper statements to find missing or duplicated transactions.
BankLink claimed its error checking systems caught most errors in the 15 million transactions it processed each month and that less than 10 were reported. Although errors could still appear, BankLink didn’t recommend its accountants and bookkeepers check the bank feeds against paper or online bank statements.
BankLink CEO John Dunkerley said he was “unaware” of any accounting practices routinely checking BankLink’s data feed against paper statements.
An edited version of the email interview has been reproduced below.
BoxFreeIT: Has a BankLink feed ever sent through duplicate transactions or missing transactions?
John Dunkerley: It would be foolish for me to say “never” in the context of a business that has been doing this for 25 years, but I do know that our error checking systems are highly effective. In fact the number of reported errors in data is less than 10 transactions per month – that’s better than 99.9999% accurate.
BoxFreeIT: Why are BankLink feeds different to direct feeds by cloud accounting companies? Aren’t these the same thing?
Dunkerley: No, there are different ways to establish and operate direct feeds. I cannot speak for others but to provide the high data quality we do, we ensure that our contractual arrangement with each bank provides for the correction of errors that may arise, and that we are made aware of any system changes in advance.
What’s more, just because it’s a direct feed does not mean that the data doesn’t need to be error checked. We find errors (normally transaction omissions or duplications) in around 1% of bank accounts each month.
What we do differently is that we have sophisticated error detection systems which check every single one of the 15 million transactions we process each month. When an error is detected, we have protocols in place with the banks to correct the error. Most of the time, our clients would be unaware – the error is detected and fixed before they receive the data.
BoxFreeIT: How does BankLink deal with problems at the bank’s end? Eg. with the CBA’s recent problems did any BankLink partners (accountants and bookkeepers) receive faulty transactions?
Dunkerley: Firstly, our data processing systems detect those problems, then our data team engages directly with the relevant bank to address the issue with the feed. Until the data is correct, we do not distribute it.
BoxFreeIT: What percentage of BankLink’s accounting firms use BankLink for larger businesses with over 50 employees? Saasu suggests that larger companies don’t use them because their accounts are more complex.
Dunkerley: I am aware of some accountants using BankLink for very large businesses, but for the most part BankLink is used for small and micro businesses. Our data feed is also used for MYOB’s LiveAccounts and AccountRightLive products – the latter of which is used by some larger businesses.
BoxFreeIT: Do accounting and bookkeeping organisations consider the BankLink feed to be a “source document” for verifying transactions in an account?
Dunkerley: I am unaware of any practices routinely checking our data feed against paper statements, although I’m sure that some would do so from time to time.
BoxFreeIT: What is BankLink’s recommended best practice to its accounting customers for reconciling accounts that receive BankLink feeds?
Dunkerley: We don’t advise accountants on how to run their practice as that will be determined by their own procedures and possibly the requirements of their professional body. As mentioned above, I am not aware of practices routinely checking against paper statements.
BoxFreeIT: Does BankLink connect to every product at every bank? Eg. Will it connect to Netbank, Commsec and Commbiz accounts at the Commonwealth Bank, whether it uses SMS, token or password authentication?
Dunkerley: No, not every product of every bank, as some products’ transactions are held in systems from which data feeds are not possible, or not adequate.
We do provide transactions for most transaction accounts including credit cards. BankLink collects data from a range of accounts that would also be available through channels such as Netbank, Commsec and Commbiz.
SMS, token or password authentication is irrelevant – our data is not scraped out of these systems, it is supplied directly from the banks’ statement production systems. We continually work with the banks to broaden the range of products available through our data feed – this includes new products the banks are developing.