The main problem is the kitten

7th Apr 2020
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It isn't necessarily that she licks my fingers whilst I am programming, but it is the anticipation that any time now she is  going to lick my fingers.  To be fair all she is really trying to say is that she wants to be fed.  The other cat sits patiently on my lap.

Before the enforced working from home I did a lot of work from home.  However, I had the school run. I would leave my office, get the children from school and then come home and feed the cats.  Now I am sitting in the sitting room and they're not really capable of understanding that they get fed at 5pm.  Hence there is a battle that goes on where I move them out of the room and shut the doors and the children let them back into the room.

I need feeding now
Artemis the kitten

Otherwise things are not going that badly.  On Monday this week I managed to get FCA authorisation for Cirrostratus to be an Account Information Service Provider.  That enables my clients to download their bank statements into my  server databases to submit Making Tax Digital returns.

The regulators are stopping "screen scraping" access to bank accounts.   This is being replaced by "Open Banking".  Open Banking uses a similar sort of authorisation process to Making Tax Digital.  That is where limited authority is given to a third party to do certain things.  Open Banking's main three "scopes" are openid, accounts and payments.   MTD Vat for example has scopes of "read:vat" and "write:vat"  An Account Information Service Provider cannot do payments.   Hence it only has the scopes of "openid" and "accounts"

However, it does mean that one of my clients will be able to download their bank account details and credit card details into a single format and then analyse them from there.  I would also like to find some guinea pig accountants who would like to experiment with using open banking to extract data for my main competitors: Sage, QuickBooks, Xero etc.

With my main assistant in Cardiff and me at home in Birmingham we have made quite a bit of progress with Open Banking and can already extract data from the test (Sandbox) systems to go into accounts.  Hence if anyone is interested in getting bank account extracts nows the time to contact me because it will be happening in April and May.  

Open Banking's security and authentication is quite a bit more complex than Making Tax Digital.  It involves the use of client eIDAS certificates for mutual TLS authentication, a separate signing certificate for data authentication and a complex relationship with a central online directory.  If there is a demand for me to write more about this I will, but for now I will simply recognise that a system that enables the making of payments does require tight controls.  The same controls exist on the extraction of data.

We have also been working with HMRC on developing and testing their Income Tax Self Assessment systems.  I know that the staff are working quite hard because I get emails from them between 7 and 8am in the morning.  There are still only six firms that can provide ITSA.

We can, of course, now offer Open Banking downloads. I don't know if any of the others can do this.   Our focus for the moment is on cash basis accounting for smaller traders, however although we have built into the system design the ability to move into more traditional accruals accounting in the future.

So given the progress we have made during the partial lockdown, I think it is fair to say that the main problem for Cirrostratus is the kitten.