“My accountant powered by BDO” – The Aion story
Polish ‘banking Netflix’ links accountancy to banking
Accountancy goes far beyond simply dealing with your VAT administration and drawing up a balance sheet. Our experts apply much of their time and know-how to making customers’ administrative processes optimal, automated and ‘dummy-proof’, and this also applies to our customers’ customers. Polish fintech firm Vodeno and its digital bank Aion offer SMEs a single integrated online platform for accounting and banking. BDO handled the accountancy part.
Author: Joyce Martens, Partner BDO Accountancy
The story began when Polish firm Vodeno came to BDO for accounting help. When the fintech firm floated the idea of launching an innovative, digital bank – Aion, a ‘banking Netflix’ – things started to get interesting. “In addition to traditional banking products, the digital bank also wanted to offer customers accountancy services and solutions through its central app,” says Joyce Martens, Partner BDO Accountancy.
“Aion needed to be more than yet another banking application,” adds Magdalena Wasilewska, Aion’s Product Owner & Project Manager. “Entrepreneurs run their business using a wide range of systems, applications and products. There is still plenty of paperwork as well. Why not integrate the most important tools in a single app that is always available?” BusinessMax was born – a suite of accounting tools that makes it easy for all business owners to manage their own accounting and administrative processes. “From creating invoices, making scans and carrying out payments, to monitoring VAT estimates and downloading files that are compatible with the three most common accounting packages,” Magdalena Wasilewska explains. “Finally, BusinessMax also offers an advanced, online accounting service called ‘My Accountant powered by BDO’, which provides central access to all relevant documents.”
“Everything is integrated, automatic and, above all, simple. Intuitive, as it were.”- Magdalena Wasilewska, Product Owner & Project Manager at Aion
Market research has revealed that SMEs cannot do business without a business bank account and accounting package. Linking these two seemed like the Holy Grail. After all, what is the greatest wish of an accountant who works with lots of small SMEs? “For all processes to take place in a streamlined and … digital fashion,” laughs Joyce Martens. “This can be achieved by encouraging managers to digitise their invoices, link their accounting to their Aion Bank account, and make payments automatically in response to digital invoices.”
For her part, Magdalena Wasilewska wanted Aion’s ‘My Accountant’ solution to be available at an attractive price and with minimal effort. “We wanted our customers to say that accounting had never been easier.” And that’s what has happened. The extensive integration of banking and accounting means that managers no longer need to worry about payment deadlines, arrears or necessary tax provisions. “Everything is integrated, automatic and, above all, simple. Intuitive, as it were.”
According to Joyce Martens, the only way to allow for intuitive processing was to bring the automation to a higher level. “So, we worked with BDO’s IT department to link the accounting data available at Aion to our own accounting software. This allows us to work with greater confidence and ease, as our accounting software is our first line of defence in ensuring the proper application of Belgian accounting and VAT rules.”
A year of close and creative collaboration
As BDO Accountancy and Aion’s wishes were a perfect match, their collaboration went beyond the usual client-supplier relationship. It grew to be a close partnership with a shared goal: to provide small and medium-sized enterprises with optimal service.
“The first exploratory phone call with Vodeno served to set the tone,” Joyce Martens recalls. “We’d only just presented our accounting proposal to Vodeno when they asked whether BDO was interested in contributing to the launch of an integrated banking and accountancy service. Our initial interview had clearly made a positive impression on Vodeno, laying the foundation for a close collaboration.”
As the project progressed, the spirit of innovation and mutual sharing of know-how and creativity increased as well. Joyce Martens continues: “The video calls between Belgium and Poland kept getting longer and longer until finally Vodeno rented an office in Brussels for hands-on workshops with experts from both sides. Those helped us clarify Vodeno’s intended target group, the specific requirements the accounting solution would need to meet, and possibilities for the development of the integrated banking platform.” After a year of meticulous preparation, thinking and fine-tuning, ‘My Accountant powered by BDO’ was available to Aion customers.
Continuous development of new tools
What’s planned for the next chapter of this story? Magdalena Wasilewska: “As the platform is now up to speed, we will continue developing new tools to meet our customers’ needs and wishes. We are currently working on a solution to enable fully automatic forwarding of all expenses from the mailbox to the accounting application. Then they are scanned and stored. The customer has all expenses available at a glance without any additional effort.” Once this application has been rolled out, the focus will shift to reporting. “Transparent management reports and various associated graphics applications will support SMEs in accurately analysing and planning their sales, costs and profits.”
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