Signing up clients quickly and easily with the Agents API and online AML

3rd Sep 2019
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MTD for VAT is now a reality for many businesses, but this is only the first step towards digital tax.   Cirrostratus Exedra is already at the forefront of two other aspects of Digital VAT the Agents API and Status Reporting and analysis.

For software companies there are a number of steps that need to be taken before they can offer services to users to interface with  HMRC’s systems.  The first step is to write the software that interfaces with HMRC.  They then need to agree the terms of use and make sure that the software complies with HMRC’s rules.  After that point they get “production credentials” which enables their systems to talk authoritatively to HMRC’s systems.

Cirrostratus have production credentials for VAT and also for The Agents Api.

“I am not sure how many companies have production credentials for the Agents Api,” said John Hemming the CEO of Cirrostratus, “but I don’t think there are that many. Having production credentials means that we can offer a service using the API today.”

In the same way that the VAT Api has five functions the agents API also has five functions.  These are: create invitation, get invitation, list invitations, delete invitation and check relationship.

“Without going into the details of these”, said John Hemming, “the Agents API makes it possible for an agent to invite a client to appoint them. The client gets a link that they can click on.  Then they sign into their gateway and appoint the agent.  This does work, but not for all clients at the moment and the client currently needs to be signed up to MTD. ”

“This is similar to the invitation system on the agents ASA, but it can interface with the agents’s computer system.  This means that the client can in fact ask the agents computer system to produce an invitation and then automatically (our system waits 3 seconds) be redirected to HMRC’s website in order to appoint the agent.”

Signing up new clients then becomes faster and easier. The client sets up an account on the accountant's system (Cirrostratus provide a separate web address for each accountant using their server). Using that account they upload their identity documents into a shared storage area.  The account also enables them to have a video call with the accountants from which a still image of the client can be taken with the photographic ID to avoid having to meet to check the photo id.  That still is stored in the document managment system along with the rest of the AML documentation.

Then the client clicks a button and after 3 seconds is given a link on HMRC's servers from which they can appoint the accountant as their agent.

A short video demonstration of this and using the ASA to get invitations for clients is here:

The option to check a relationship based upon the vat number and date of vat registration is also available under “check relationship”.   “It can be quite difficult for agents,” said John Hemming,” to working out why things are not working when something doesn’t work.  Having the check relationships function enables an accountants computer system to check  whether the agency relationship exists and report that to the accountant.  That means that rather than the agent puzzling about the situation for minutes or hours their computer system simply tells them what the problem is.”

It is also possible to use the API to monitor the status of invitations so the accountant can know who needs to be chased or even to send out automated chase emails to the client once a week without having to do anything.

To open a free account on the Cirrostratus Web server and try out the agents API click the link below.

If you wish to use the Cirrostratus Server to establish client document accounts, video calling and online Anti Money Laundering please email us at [email protected] once you have set up your account so we can enable those functions.