Bank feeds, synchronisation are points of difference.
MYOB CEO Tim Reed slammed accounting software programs that shared online banking details in a veiled dig at Xero, at the ATSA technology conference in Darling Harbour, Sydney.
“Having your online banking username and password stored somewhere beyond that bank is in breach of online banking rules and terms and conditions, and it’s just bad. I think it’s just poor practice,” said Reed, speaking on a panel with Xero and other accounting software executives.
Xero used US-based financial data aggregator Yodlee to supply bank feeds from some financial institutions through a combination of technologies including “screen scraping”. An earlier opinion on the discussion about screen scraping can be read here.
Reed said its micro-business accounting software MYOB LiveAccounts used local data aggregator BankLink to gather bank feeds directly from Australian and New Zealand banks.
Chris Ridd, Xero’s Australian managing director, who was also on the panel, responded by deflecting the attack towards security in general.
“I look at the way we handle security within Xero and it’s all bank rated security, everything from passwords to the way that we use SSL encryption. We’ve never had a security breach and we’ve never lost any data, we’re always looking at how we build robustness and availability into it, and it’s a huge investment.”
In a later session Ridd struck back with an allusion to the synchronisation approach adopted by MYOB’s AccountRight Live cloud software.
“A single ledger is the only way to go. We’ve heard talk about this synchronisation model but we think the world is changing. You don’t need to do that,” Ridd said.
Ridd said the definition of cloud programs should only refer to browser-based software. MYOB’s cloud strategy required users to buy desktop software that synced with its AccountRight Live cloud service. An article on what to expect with AccountRight Live can be found here and a comparison with Xero and Saasu here.
“Simplicity to me is not just the user interface, it’s about customers being able to log into a browser from any device and that’s what the market is demanding,” Ridd said.
“It’s also about being able to constantly update and improve features without the user having to load CDs. Customers don’t want to have to manage the complexity of software.”