November First makes the accounting process more time efficient, accurate and saves costs on cross border payments by moving the payment capability from the online bank directly into the accounting software.
Accounting is essential for a company’s operations. Over a period of a few years, the area has been digitised, but even today, there are many rigid processes that can be streamlined, and documentation which can be improved:
The accounting department receives an invoice, which is validated and registered. The accountant generates a payment file from the accounting system, goes to the online bank, logs in with their key card, and uploads the file so that the invoice is ready to be paid. The person in the company who has to approve the payment is notified and logs in to the online bank to approve it – which in itself may require a trip to the accounting department to check which invoice the amount is related to. Once that part is in order, the accounting department goes back to the online bank with their key card and downloads a new file, which has to be uploaded to the accounting system before the reconciliation can be done. If partial payments are made, payment details are faulty, or a supplier pays in a foreign currency, additional workflows are added – and the costs are considerable.
These are the tedious and inefficient processes that the fintech company November First eases with its payment engine. Back in January, the company, as the first licensed payment institution, succeeded in moving the transaction capability out of the bank and to a place where it is needed – for example, in the company’s accounting system.
By integrating the payment engine directly into the accounting system, all transactions and posting details are executed directly and can be tracked in real-time. This makes all the necessary data available to the accountant and the company throughout the process. Thus, the need for key cards and uploading and downloading files between a financial system and a bank is finally put to rest. It ties everything together and removes the hassle,” says Mikael Nilsson, CEO and Founder of November First.
Minimal finance function through automation
November First launched its payment platform in 2016 with the clear purpose of making it cheaper for companies to make international payments to foreign suppliers. In collaboration with SEB, November First succeeded in developing a service that saves companies between 20 and 50 % on currency margins and fees.
Today, November First handles all types of payments including the international ones. And the launch of the new payment engine makes the optimised workflow available directly in the accounting system and as a service for integration in other solutions that benefit from the capabilities the new engine provides.
“We have moved the transaction capability to where it’s needed. It can be in an accounting- or ERP system, invoice approval software, or tied to a scanning module. Payments no longer need to be made through the bank’s platforms,” says Nilsson.
In addition to streamlining the accounting flow, the payment engine also handles many payments at once across currencies and automatically adjusts currency rates on international payments. It saves the users time on the job, ensures higher data quality, while at the same time giving SME’s currency savings.
In my view, the goal for the automation of the finance function is to have resources spend time on value-creating tasks – not on moving information between systems. Once an invoice has been registered the remaining process should be running on auto-pilot with a few clicks and the necessary approvals to ensure that the right payments run through to the right beneficiaries,” Nilsson states.
Sets the engine free
When November First launched its new payment engine, the company built the first integration in-house for the accounting software Visma e-conomic. But today, the engine is set free through an API which allows 3rd parties to build on it.
“During Covid-19, we realised that November First had an opportunity to scale faster across systems and geographies by developing on our own API, with the purpose of making it available to third parties. The API was released in May and presented to selected partners so that they could integrate our capabilities to their services, thus giving us access to a wider distribution,” Nilsson explains.
It quickly paid off, and already by the end of the summer, four partners had completed their integrations to the API: from September, SME’s can have a full payment module in Uniconta, have invoices scanned through Fakturafil, and handle invoice and payment approval in one flow through Batchflow4.
At the same time, November First has begun collaboration with several auditing companies and bookkeeping companies that focus on offering optimal outsourced bookkeeping to their clients.