Countingup is a business “accounting bank”. As you may have guessed, this means that it’s supposed to work both as a bank and as an accounting software. It aims to let customers pay bills and do their accounting from the same app.
As Countingup’s CEO Tim Fouracre modestly puts it, “it’s Xero and RBS in one app”. The truth is, it’s not quite there yet, but it does seem off to a good start.
It launched on 24 January 2018 for freelancers and sole traders, but it is now also available for limited companies. During its first year of life, it says it reached 8,000 customers.
You can sign up to Countingup online in a few minutes, as long as your business is registered in the UK and you are at least 18 and a UK resident. Not all the accounting features are up and running yet, so here’s what you get with Countingup for now:
Countingup is expected to start offering a number of other features that are being developed, among which are automated tax filings, a web interface and multi-user access.
Right now, Countingup does look remarkably cheap, and the basic option comes directly for free. However, that’s because not all the accounting features have been released yet and so the monthly membership is discounted for 18 months.
There are three tiers of monthly membership. Here’s how they work, their current price and how much they will cost you once everything is properly developed:
However, don’t expect these fees to be all-inclusive. You’ll also need to add fees for most of the banking services:
These are the same for all the membership tiers and Countingup says they won’t change after the features development is completed.
Countingup’s main pro is combining accounting and banking, so it’s only good if you’re planning to use it for both of them. To enjoy Countingup to its fullest you must probably be a freelancer or a startup, and not have established your banking and accounting system yet. Otherwise, you’ll have to be ready for quite a big change in the way you do things.
As its monthly deposit tiers make clear, Countingup has been created with small businesses in mind. Its features aren’t tailored for big and complex businesses, and in any case, if you’re running a business that employs many people and earns tens of thousands, you don’t really want to go for an accounting software whose developing phase isn’t finished yet.
Countingup isn’t officially a bank, so your deposits won’t enjoy the standard £85,000 protection that comes from the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme).
However, Countingup’s account is provided by Prepay Solutions, which has a licence for issuing electronic money granted by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). It also keeps your money in a segregated account at Barclays, which means that if Countingup was to go bankrupt, your deposits can’t be used to repay its creditors.
Unifying accounting and banking is obviously a great idea, one that can save small businesses much time and potentially also quite a lot of money. Countingup is still a work in progress and much remains to be done for it to actually deserve the name of “accounting bank”, such as getting a banking licence and becoming a real bank. However, its features are smart and handy, and if it delivers its 2019 promises, most of what you can ask from an accounting software will be available.
When it comes to pricing, Countingup still leaves much to be desired. The monthly fee is now comparatively cheap, but this won’t last and most businesses will have to subscribe to the top-tier membership if they’re planning on using Countingup as their main account. Moreover, it charges fees for banking services, which puts it behind its digital banking competitors.
However, let’s not forget that there aren’t many accounting+banking apps around yet, so this is a somewhat unique service. As other challengers enter the competition in the next few years and digital bank business products become more varied and sophisticated, services and prices are quite likely to improve.
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