Xero makes powerful partnerships for the future

Xero is a dynamic company in many ways, both in innovation and speed of growth. As a cloud-based accounting software company pitted against well-established players of considerable size in the U.S. space, it kind of has to be.

This past year, the company made several big moves like launching in Canada, and a $70 million acquisition of Hubdoc. It’s also experienced some personnel shifts, like the appointment of Jamie McDonald, co-founder and co-CEO of Hubdoc, as executive general manager of product; and Tony Ward, formerly of Dropbox and SurveyMonkey, as new president of Americas.

As usual, Xero’s annual conference, held this year in San Diego, was a showcase of the achievements of the past year as much as it was about the roadmap for the future. Ward took the mainstage to introduce himself to U.S. users, and McDonald, a familiar face to Xerocon attendees, spoke about the product innovation strategy he is bringing to Xero.

“I’ve never had an original idea for a product,” McDonald said. “It's all from speaking to customers.”

To that end, the announcements Xero made this past year have all been in response to what would serve its small business customers and small to mid-sized firms best. Below are the highlights.

Big in Canada
Steve Vamos Tony Ward Xerocon 2019
Xerocon 2019 saw a strong contingent from Canada among the attendees, and that’s no accident. Xero is currently looking to expand in a major way in our neighbors to the north. The company officially launched in Canada last year. It is on track for goods and services tax (GST) and the harmonized sales tax (HST) functionality within its software for Q4 of this year.

The GST/HST solution is available now in beta for select Canadian subscribers, allowing accountants and bookkeepers to automatically generate GST or HST tax returns. The new feature brings GST and HST calculations directly into the Xero platform so advisors can manage and audit tax returns quickly.
Tax mapper for the U.S.
Tax Mapper, a new tax workflow solution in Xero, maps client data from the Xero platform for accountants’ preferred tax software. Each client’s necessary financial information is systematically aligned with the relevant U.S. tax forms, ready for input to any tax platform.

Tax Mapper is a step in Xero’s strategy for automating the compliance process for advisors agnostic to platforms and partners, so accountants and bookkeepers can work with the tools and software that suit them, according to the company.

Xero will roll out additional tax preparation services and deeper partnerships with tax providers in the coming months.
Global collaboration with PwC extended
Building on its established relationship with PwC in the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Xero has created a new global collaboration with the Big Four firm. The partnership allows local PwC firms around the world to provide their clients access to the Xero platform. The goal is for new advantages to emerge for small businesses based in markets like Asia, Europe, the United States and other countries to help accelerate cloud adoption. It also outlines a commitment from both PwC and Xero to continue to innovate together, using Xero’s application programming interfaces (APIs) to develop efficient products and services for small businesses globally. The two organizations have already built products like PwC’s Cashflow Coach together.

“Accountants, bookkeepers and their customers want beautiful technology and intuitive online experiences to drive efficiency, which helps their businesses thrive,” said Anna Curzon, Xero’s chief product officer, in a statement. “PwC has big ambitions for delivering the innovations their clients want and are asking for. By leveraging Xero’s global platform and strengthening our relationship, we’re able to build a more connected network to accelerate innovation. We see this as helping small businesses succeed by opening up even more opportunities to deliver beautiful products and services around the world.”
Long-time integration with Stripe expanded
Craig Walker, chief technology officer of Xero and a founding executive of the company, is the kind of guy who can build an app in a weekend — and that’s what he did back in 2011 when Xero first entered into a partnership with Stripe. At Xerocon, he described how he met with one of Stripe's early business developers on a Friday, built the API integration for Stripe over the weekend, and deployed the payments button inside Xero by Monday.

This year marks just the latest expansion of the partnership between the two companies. Walker and his team have built a new Stripe feed, designed to bring comprehensive transaction data for all Stripe payments into Xero for reconciliation and insights, such as whether a small business invoices from the Xero platform or an e-commerce site. An auto pay feature allows small businesses to set up and receive recurring payments for repeat-billing customers directly through Xero.

“Small businesses are fundamental to the growth of major and developing economies around the world; and ensuring that they get paid on time is vital to their survival and growth,” Walker said in a statement. “We built the Xero platform to help small businesses grow with better tools, smarter insights and comprehensive connections to the information they need to run their business. Our partnership with Stripe today brings us even closer to helping small businesses spend less time chasing payments, and more time focusing on doing what they love.”

Stripe’s mission is to “increase the GDP of the Internet” — currently, only 5 percent of all transactions globally are conducted online — and at Xerocon 2019, new president of Americas Tony Ward said that Xero aims to “increase the GDP of the world.” It seems like a match made in heaven.