Comma joins the race for cloud bulk paymentsby
Growing demand for managing bulk payments online has spawned a new app called Comma.
UK-based Comma joins the growing list of bulk payment apps that link to leading online accounting platforms including Xero, Sage, QuickBooks and FreeAgent.
While the emphasis is on cloud-based application programming interfaces (APIs) to speed up data exchange, the latest newcomer to an increasingly competitive bulk payments marketplace also links to desktop packages including Sage 50cloud and QuickBooks Desktop.
Comma is the first UK app developer to build a payment mechanism on top of the Yapily platform. Steering users through the payment process, Comma imports invoice data and bank details from accounting ledgers, offers them up for review and authorisation by the payment manager.
Behind the screens, Comma packages up the instructions as CSV files that go through the Yapily Open Banking API to initiate payments of specific amounts from from the buyer’s account to the supplier’s.
The two-way bank feeds give Comma users visibility of transactions across linked accounts, without the need to log in to each individual account. The APIs also allow the app to post transactions automatically back into the accounting system to mark each payment as complete.
For accounting practitioners, the app costs £10 per month, with no limit on the number of transactions handled.
Payment dark ages
During a stint working as an operations director for a marketing agency, Comma founder Tom Beckenham spent a lot of time wrestling with payroll and other large payment runs.
The experience taught him that many businesses were still stuck in the dark ages when it came to payments.
He decided to move into software development in 2019 and set out to re-examine and streamline billing processes.
“Initially, I was trying to do it from the supplier side, to try and bring in cash faster and encourage early payment, but then the pandemic hit,” Beckenham told AccountingWEB at last week’s Accountex North Summit. “That was just never going to happen when no one was paying anybody. So I decided to go back to the drawing board and look at payments holistically.
“Payments are annoying. As a business owner, you try to squeeze them in between meetings, or you're doing it late at night. Because it’s annoying and painful, it gets delayed and there's a knock-on effect on the whole supply chain.”
According to Beckenham, the functionality of accounting systems create some of the irritating blockages. “Xero and QuickBooks stop right at the point where we need to pay people. So all these little businesses are left to copy and paste from payslips one by one into their bank or find bills inside emails to grab the details from the bottom of the invoice for who they need to pay,” he said.
Accountants are a key part of Comma’s business model - particularly firms whose clients have been begging them to manage payroll and payments, Beckenham explained.
“Accountants could offer a payment service without all the risks previously associated with payments.”
At the Accountex event, using the app to batch up payroll payments generated the most interest, as one delegate explained it, “Because it’s the biggest pain point.”
Beckenham said Comma had already responded to similar requests by opening up conversations with payroll software companies to embed the app into their programs.
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