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Tech Lowdown: Virgin-O2, Microsoft, BrightPay

This week’s roundup features the CMAs provisional approval of the Virgin-O2 merger, BrightPay-Modulr integrated payments, acquisitions from Microsoft and Tipalti, and TaxCal’s prize freeze.

15th Apr 2021
Staff Writer AccountingWEB
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CMA provisionally clears merger of Virgin and O2

The UKs Competition and Markets authority (CMA) provisionally authorised the proposed merger of Virgin Media and Virgin Mobile with O2 – both providing services to network oprterators and consumers.

Overlapping retail services posed no issue due to Virgin Mobile’s small size. Instead, the regulator addressed the questioned whether it could raise wholesale prices at the expense of other services and UK customers. The CMA inquiry group provisionally concluded that the merger is unlikely to raise prices on the following grounds:

  • Backhaul costs represent a minor element of rival mobile companies’ overall costs, making it unlikely that Virgin could raise these costs high enough to raise consumer charges.

  • Other market players are offering the same leased-line services, including BT Openreach, which has a wider reach, meaning Virgin will have to remain competitive.

  • As with leased-line services, other companies provide mobile networks for telecoms firms, meaning O2 will also need to remain competitive.

“Given the impact this deal could have in the UK, we needed to scrutinise this merger closely,” said CMA inquiry panel chairman Martin Coleman. “A thorough analysis of the evidence gathered during our phase two investigation has shown that the deal is unlikely to lead to higher prices or a reduced quality of mobile services – meaning customers should continue to benefit from strong competition.”

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Modulr brings secure payments to BrightPay

BrightPay has partnered with fintech Modulr to integrate secure, rapid payments into its payroll system to increase efficiency and reduce errors, online cyber-attacks and file manipulation.

Modulr’s payments infrastructure save BrightPay users the need to upload payment files by automatically syncing payroll entries with payment entries. Payment entries will require approval before payment and the Modulr account must remain topped up.

The Modulr’s direct access to the UK’s real-time Faster Payments network will bypass the need for manual processes during payroll runs and speed payroll delivery, said BrightPay.

“With the rate of technological innovation in payments, it makes little sense for traditional payroll systems to be disconnected from the payment mechanism,” said Modulr accountancy and employment services lead Tom Kelly. “Powered by Modulr, BrightPay’s new service ensures flexibility by bringing a host of benefits to customers who can now send ultra-fast, secure payments that save them time and headaches.

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Microsoft acquires Nuance for $19.7bn

Microsoft revealed this morning its acquisition of speech-to-text company Nuance Communications for $19.7bn (£14.3bn). The leader in speech to text software will allow Microsoft to accelerate Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, announced last year, which caters for the rapidly transforming and growing healthcare industry.

“Today’s acquisition announcement represents the latest step in Microsoft’s industry-specific cloud strategy,” said Microsoft in a blog post announcing the deal.

“Nuance provides the AI layer at the healthcare point of delivery and is a pioneer in the real-world application of enterprise AI,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

“AI is technology’s most important priority, and healthcare is its most urgent application. Together, with our partner ecosystem, we will put advanced AI solutions into the hands of professionals everywhere to drive better decision-making and create more meaningful connections, as we accelerate the growth of Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare and Nuance.”

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Tipalti acquires Approve.com

Global payables automation unicorn Tipalti has acquired cloud procurement solutions provider Approve.com to expand its portfolio of financial operations offerings.

According to the fintech, the acquisition makes Tipalti the only company dedicated to mid-market businesses that automates the entire Accounts Payable cycle from procurement through to payment. 

The acquisition of Approve.com is for an undisclosed amount. The transaction is expected to close in early Q2 2021. 

 “Procurement is an important part of our long-term product vision,” said Tipalti CEO and co-founder Chen Amit. “One holistic solution can transform finance operations and level the playing field for finance leaders at mid-market companies.” 

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TaxCalc pledges price freeze across all products for 2021

TaxCalc is freezing prices across all products for 2021:

  • 2020 prices frozen on TaxCalc products until 31 March 2022 (excluding additional user prices)
  • Maximum 5% price increases in 2022 and 2023 respectively 

2022/2023 price pledge to not increase prices in excess of 5% applies to the following products only: 

  • Individual and Partnership Unlimited; 
  • Individual and Partnership 30-2; 
  • Individual 12; 
  • Corporation Tax Unlimited; 
  • Corporation Tax 50 (Small Practice); 
  • Corporation Tax 12; 
  • Trust Unlimited; 
  • Single SA900 Trust tax return; 
  • Partnership Duo 12; 
  • Partnership Solo 12; 
  • Partnership 5; 
  • Micro Practice;
  • Additional tax product concurrent users; 
  • What If? Planner; 
  • Dividend Database; 
  • Encrypted PDF; 
  • Batch Filer) and 
  • Practice Management products (Practice Manager Plus; Additional Practice Manager Plus users).

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