On 27th of March, 2014, an AccountingWEB member named Tim Fouracre authored a post titled: “Accounting & banking needs to be more joined up”.
“When paying bills, too much time is wasted by small businesses transferring data between accounting software and online banking,” he wrote. It’s a problem that’s never stopped pestering him apparently, since solving it is the raison d’être of his new business Countingup.
If the name Tim Fouracre rings a bell, you might be a Clear Books user. Fouracre is the founder and former CEO of the cloud accounting company. He’s recently moved on, with Countingup now being his sole focus.
The move away from Clear Books isn’t an acrimonious one, Fouracre told AccountingWEB. It was just logistics. He simply couldn’t commit to two big projects at once. The CEO mantle at Clear Books has been filled internally by Phil Sayers, Clear Books’s former sales and marketing director.
So what exactly is Countingup? “It’s a challenger bank, but I’d call it an accounting bank”. There’s the key term: “accounting bank”. Fouracre wants to combine the accounting and banking of sole traders and limited companies into one service.
“The two have been moving closer together with APIs and bank feeds, but we’re still doing the same thing in different places and it should be done in one application,” Fouracre said.
Fouracre wants to combine the accounting and banking of sole traders and limited companies into one service.
The banking product, which will be on the market by January, will include a bank account, a sort code, a Mastercard, a banking app and the ability to make purchases. And that’s where the accounting comes in.
“When you log in, all of your accounts are going to be automatically categorised. All the bookkeeping will be automated,” Fouracre explained. “When you create an invoice and the customer pays you, because they’re paying into the same system where the invoice was created, it’ll automatically and effortlessly reconcile it without you getting involved.”
But “bank” is, for now at least, bit of a misnomer. Technically speaking Countingup is a electronic money account, meaning there are some limitations, but also some benefits. It means Countingup doesn’t have to get a full PRA regulated banking license, which saves hassle, but it also means there’s no concept of credit. No overdrafts, no loans. You also can’t earn interest (but in post-2008 Britain, this isn’t necessarily a death blow, either).
We’re going to hook our customers up to the leading lights of funding options.”
Fouracre actually sees the lack of a credit facility as an opportunity. Countingup will offer its customers access to external capital through a marketplace. “We’re going to hook our customers up to the leading lights of funding options.”
Attaining official bank status isn’t out of the question, Fouracre explained, but it will come only after they’ve exhausted their three pronged roadmap: “create the banking product, layer the accounting functionality on top - that is, invoicing and P&L - and then the third part is the marketplace. Once we’ve done those three things, only then we’ll look at a full banking license.”
It’s a lot of ambition for what is still a four person operation - including Fouracre. But the signs of traction are there: at just over one month old, the company has just raised £550,000. “As an entrepreneur,” Fouracre said, “this is the exciting bit.”
About Francois Badenhorst
I'm AccountingWEB's business editor. Feel free to get in touch with comments, tips, scoops or irreverent banter.