SignFlow ties up with Accfin to digitise accounting processes

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The integration of two state-of-the-art software platforms transports the accounting profession into a new world of digitisation.

Digital signature workflow solution SignFlow and accounting software firm Accfin have integrated their respective software platforms, in a move that places the accounting profession securely in a new and exciting world of digitisation.

Accfin, a local software firm leading the way in automation of back-office systems for accounting and auditing companies, grew out of an accounting firm over 20 years ago. The recent tie-up with SignFlow – a locally developed and internationally recognised digital signature solution – essentially automates the entire communication process involved in the accounting practice.

Leon van der Merwe, head of digital at SignFlow parent company PBSA, explains, “By using the SignFlow feature in Accfin software, you eliminate the need for print, courier and e-mailing of sensitive documents to customers – and then having to wait days, even weeks for a response.

“SignFlow is built on a powerful, digital workflow engine that tracks progress and instils accountability and auditability. Apart from the obvious environmental advantages the solution offers, the value of saving time through increased efficiency, is most valuable to accountants, who work under tremendous time pressure.”

Accfin MD Mark Silberman says the integration with SignFlow “changes the state of play” in the accounting market place. “It automates the communication process. Our software allows accounting firms to communicate with their clients. The integration of SignFlow with [Accfin’s] Sky Software allows the customers of the accountant to authorise the filing of tax returns and approve company resolutions.”

Accfin, which strives to provide state-of-the-art back office systems to South African accounting firms, currently provides automation software across the sector – from large international firms, to small sole practitioners.

Van der Merwe says SignFlow is proud to be associated with Accfin Software – a company that is “definitely leading the way in automating back office systems for accounting and auditing firms”.

“SignFlow is fast becoming the most trusted digital signature workflow solution in South Africa, especially within the auditing and financial sectors,” concludes Van der Merwe.

Draftworx, SignFlow integration yields SA first

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A recent partnership between the two software platforms brings a cutting-edge automation solution to the accounting and auditing industry.

In a move that has seen the birth of cutting-edge technology – the first of its kind in South Africa – SignFlow has partnered with Draftworx, addressing a critical need identified among auditors and corporate companies that draft financial statements.

Draftworx provides automated drafting and working paper financial software to more than 2 500 accounting and auditing firms. The company went to market six and a half years ago, bringing the industry easy-to-learn and easy-to-use automation software, which allows  accountants and auditors to generate International Financial Reporting Standards  (IFRS)/IFRS SME compliant financial statements and ISA audit, review, and compilation engagement compliance.

According to Leon van der Merwe, head of digital at SignFlow parent company PBSA, the integration between the two software platforms came about when a massive need among auditors and corporates that prepare their own financial statements was identified – that of automating and digitising the process of getting financial statements and engagement documents signed off by company directors.

“Auditors can now automate and digitise their document delivery processes using the DigiSign module in the Draftworx platform to distribute documents electronically for customers to sign, using legally binding SignFlow digital signatures. The distribution and signing process is completely digital and auditable, entirely removing the need to print, scan and deliver paper-based financial statements and engagement contracts.”

Draftworx CEO Earl Steyn says the company, which aims to be in the cloud by year-end, sees SignFlow becoming one of its core technologies and marketing advantages. “Accountants and auditors can reduce time wastage – as well as waiting periods – by having their clients sign all their documentation offsite and at their leisure.”

Steyn adds his experience with SignFlow – a locally developed and internationally recognised digital signature and workflow solution – has been “phenomenal”. He says the team pays attention to detail and is willing to customise SignFlow to Draftworx and its clients’ requirements.

Van der Merwe says the SignFlow team is proud to be associated with Draftworx software, “which is leading the way in IFRS/IFRS SME compliant financial statements and ISA audit software in South Africa and across Africa”.

ACS partnership bolsters digital certificate security

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SignFlow has teamed up with Altech Card Solutions to offer Thales hardware security modules to its digital signature customers.

In a move that will see users’ private keys and personal digital certificates receiving a serious security boost, SignFlow has partnered with Altech Card Solutions (ACS), a division of Altron TMT, to offer Thales HSMs (hardware security modules) to digital signature customers.

Using SignFlow’s PKCS#11 cryptographic interface, SignFlow uses Thales NShield Connect HSMs to perform highly specialised cryptographic operations, and to fully manage and secure private keys and personal digital certificates.

Head of digital at SignFlow’s parent company PBSA, Leon can der Merwe, says the partnership with ACS sees SignFlow extending its integration reach to include the Thales NShield range of network attached, FIPS 140-2 Level 3 HSMs.

“Apart from deploying the NShield devices in the highly-secure SignFlow Cloud, we now also offer the NShield range to corporate customers who would like to localise and manage their SignFlow private keys in private data centres.”

The SignFlow HSMs are directly integrated with multiple local and global CA’s (Certificate Authorities) to offer stringent, legally compliant Advanced Electronic Signatures (AES), Qualified Electronic Signatures (QES) and Adobe Approved Trust List (AATL) certificates, which are applied to documents through its digital signature application.

A division of Altron TMT (Pty) Ltd, ACS was formed in 1993 and is today firmly established as a leading player in the secure electronic transactions market.

It is Thales’ established track record in the payments security space and global footprint in hardware and software encryption solutions that makes this partnership so advantageous, says ACS.

SignFlow, an enterprise-class digital signature and document workflow application, was born in a digital era that has seen new business opportunities emerging as paper-based systems are replaced by digital platforms.

SignFlow digital signatures are powered by robust public-key infrastructure (PKI) technology, which is recognised as best practice for ensuring digital accountability. SignFlow digital signatures offer an effective, secure and legally compliant method of providing accountability during electronic transactions.

“Our partnership with ACS will benefit customers across the spectrum – including consumers using SignFlow’s SignFREE to sign documents, businesses using the SignFlow Cloud to distribute documents and government and corporate institutions using SignFlow’s Enterprise Hybrid Servers and Private Network Servers to digitally sign and workflow documents for sign-offs,” says Van der Merwe.

FICA compliance made easy

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SA’s leading data bureau gives businesses the key to pain-free compliance.

Although the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) came into effect almost a decade and a half ago, it is as relevant today as the day it was conceived.

Instituted in 2003 to curb financial crimes, such as money laundering, tax evasion, and terrorist financing activities, FICA is a law that all financial institutions need to comply with. This includes any business that provides credit facilities in any form – whether assets like houses and cars, or retail items like mobile phone contracts and appliance/clothing accounts – or cash in the form of loans.

FICA basically makes it incumbent on all aforementioned financial services companies to reassess their entire client list, in order to ensure that all clients’ identities and finances can be verified. Think of it as a sweeping credit check of every person in an existing database – it is a means of identifying any individual who could potentially pose a threat to your company.

As with any law governing how businesses handle customer identification and verification processes, and how they manage records, FICA is multifaceted, and comes with severe penalties for businesses that are non-compliant.

Pain-free compliance

But, as daunting as this may sound, it does not need to be – nor does FICA compliance need to be another headache you have to deal with as a credit providing company.

South Africa’s leading data bureau, pbVerify, offers a range of services to make your path as a business striving for FICA compliance as straight as possible.

A division of pbDigital, under Customer Communications firm PBSA, pbVerify is essentially a credit risk management tool for any size business in South Africa that grants credit accounts and payment terms to other businesses and/or to South African consumers.

pbVerify’s online web-based tools help companies assess credit risk by evaluating the credit history of any business and its principles and/or any consumer a company wishes to grant credit terms to. This is done via multiple credit bureaus and other business critical data providers, through one easy-to-use website.

Included in pbVerify’s suite of services, are the following consumer credit check products, which offer your business a painless means of becoming FICA compliant:

Consumer traces for address validation: facilitated by three of South Africa’s main data credit bureaus – XDS, TransUnion and Compuscan – pbVerify’s consumer trace service gives you access to consumers’ latest  contact information.

Bank account verification: pbVerify’s Bank Account Verification Service allows you to efficiently verify the bank details of a consumer, and determine the status of their account – whether the account is currently active, open or closed and whether it has been open for more than three months. The service is available for the 5 major banks in South Africa only.

CIPC Company & Director Verification: pbVerify’s CIPC Company Search Report – one of the most advanced CIPC search tools in South Africa – allows customers to easily retrieve and verify all registration information related to any registered South African business and its principles. Complementing this search too, is the CIPC Director Search Report.

ID Verification: The pbVerify Home Affairs ID Verification tool is used to determine the correct identity information on South African citizens. (This validates the consumer’s identification, but does not confirm whether or not they are credit active)

Alongside this, pbVerify’s ID verification API is used by various corporations, retailers, telecommunications companies, online service providers and system integrators to instantly verify identities for an range of different functions, including customer identification at point of sale, fraud prevention, online transaction verification, customer relations, human resource software and more.

pbVerify Bank Code Update gives added assurance

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bank code update2For absolute assuredness around credit risk, complete your business credit report with a bank code update.

As a business striving for problem-free, profitable dealings with customers, you know how important complete, accurate and up-to-date credit information is, and you will want to leave no stone unturned when it comes to assessing creditworthiness.

As South Africa’s leading credit bureau, pbVerify provides you with all the products you as a business need, to guarantee sound commercial transactions – including a Bank Code Update service to round off business credit reports.

Complementing pbVerify’s recently launched XDS Business Credit Report, is our commercial bank code update service – also provided by XDS – that allows you to acquire an up-to-date bank code from any listed South African bank.

Bank codes are critical when it comes to assessing the credit limits and creditworthiness of potential customers. Before extending credit to any business, request a Bank Code Update on the pbVerify system to the value of credit you are considering.

In a nutshell, this is how it works: After you have submitted the required information, pbVerify’s Bank Code Update service makes contact with the customer in question’s bank, and requests the latest bank code against the desired Rand value. The return bank report is kept in your pvVerify account and can be retrieved any time after it is received.

What is a Bank Code?

A bank code is essentially a code provided by a bank on the company in question’s account, representing how good the company is for the amount of credit it is applying for. This is an investigation report that takes 24 hours.

As the business looking into a company as a potential customer, you are required to enter the company’s bank details (bank name, branch, account number) and the terms of the enquiry. For example, if the company in question signed a credit agreement of R10 000 for 12 months. The terms would then be R10 000 at 30 days over 12 months.

Below are the possible bank codes pbVerify’s Bank Code Update service could return:

A = Undoubted for the amount of your enquiry

B = Good for the amount of your enquiry

C = Good for the amount quoted if strictly in the way of business

D = Fairtrade risk for the amount of your enquiry

E = Figures considered too high

F = Financial Position Unknown

G = Paper occasionally dishonoured

H = Paper frequently dishonoured

Bank Code Update is a standard feature within the pbVerify system and is also available to third-party integrators via an API.

Please note:

  • Before requesting a bank code, businesses need to ensure that the company registration number matches that associated with their bank account.
  • It takes 24 hours from the time of enquiry for a bank code to be returned to the business enquiring.
  • This product is only available for companies – a bank code cannot be requested for an individual.

pbVerify launches new business report

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business credit reportSA’s leading data bureau has added a new B2B product to its extensive suite of credit risk management products.

SA’s leading data bureau, pbVerify, has just launched a new product to complement its existing B2B suite – the XDS Business Credit Report.

The new product will furnish businesses looking to draw business credit reports with instant insight into the existing status of any company that is registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC).

XDS is one of South Africa’s leading credit bureaus and, while pbverify has been an XDS partner for many years and offered a range of consumer verification products, the new XDS report is the first business product to be launched on the pbVerify website.

A comprehensive overview and statement of the credit status of any company being researched for credit worthiness, the XDS Business Credit Report is competitively priced and offers all the information (on both the company and its directors) a business requires to make sound commercial decisions.

The information offered in the XDS Business Credit Report also helps businesses prevent fraud by exposing whether any prior legal action has been taken against the company in question. It also gives businesses assurance that the Business and Principal information the company in question has provided, is 100% legitimate.

Below is just some of the information businesses can expect to garner from pbVerify’s new Business Credit Report from XDS:

  • Company CIPC status and information
  • Commercial credit score (with indicator)
  • Auditor information
  • Active director information
  • Business contact information
  • Business banking details
  • Bank Code history information
  • Commercial adverse information (judgements, defaults, etc)

Note: When drawing a business credit report, consent will always be required in terms of the National Credit Act (NCA) and its Prescribed Purposes. Read more about this here.

Consumer credit checks and the NCA

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Consumer credit checks

Businesses need to provide reasons for drawing consumer credit reports, in terms of the National Credit Act. 

If you are a credit provider of any kind, it is inevitable that you will frequently have to dig into the financial history of potential debtors.

pbVerify offers a range of Business to Consumer (B2C) credit check services*, which help businesses make better business credit decisions when assessing new debtors. As SA’s leading data bureau, we know that the better the information you have on your potential customers, the better your decisions will ultimately be.

At the same time, you need to be aware that the rights of the credit-seeking consumer are clearly enshrined in legislation, in particular the National Credit Act (NCA) No. 34 of 2005, and the onus is on you to make sure you comply.

Yes, as a credit grantor following good business practice, you have the basis for an enquiry into a potential debtor’s financial history (i.e. via a credit report) – but a consumer’s credit report is confidential and may not be accessed without legal grounds, or the consumer’s explicit permission.

These “legal grounds” are laid out in the NCA, in the form of prescribed purposes (the Act requires that you specify the reason you are drawing a credit report).

In this article, we will outline the rationale behind the NCA, and list some of the prescribed purposes it incorporates.

The purpose of the NCA

South Africa’s population consists mainly of lower LSM (Living Standards Measure) individuals with limited to no access to credit channels.

According to the Banking Association of South Africa, the complex nature of credit agreements has left many of the country’s consumers vulnerable and often exploited by credit providers.

“This led to the establishment of the NCA [which includes] mechanisms to protect consumers against unscrupulous lending and over-indebtedness.”

The NCA seeks to “promote and advance the social and economic welfare of South Africans, promote a fair, transparent, competitive, sustainable, responsible, efficient, effective and accessible credit market and industry, and to protect consumers.”

The association lists credit providers as banks, micro-lenders, retailers (e.g. furniture and clothing stores) and “all businesses, companies, close corporations, partnerships and individuals who do business on credit, provide loans or charge interest on overdue accounts; and who offer credit within the prescribed threshold values in terms of the [NCA] Act”.

Consumers, says the association, include both individuals (natural persons) and “certain juristic persons [e.g. companies, close corporations, trusts (with more than three individual trustees), partnerships and an association of persons] whose asset value or annual turnover, together with the combined asset value or annual turnover of all related juristic persons, at the time the agreement is made, equals or exceeds the threshold value of R1 million”.

Prescribed purposes

A credit bureau may issue you with a consumer’s credit report in terms of the NCA, under a number of prescribed purposes – including, but not limited to:

  • Account Management
  • Affordability Assessment
  • Alternative dispute resolution
  • Book Assessment
  • Consumer Enquiry
  • Credit Assessment
  • Credit Limit
  • Credit Ombud Enquiry
  • Tracing (non-credit provider
  • Debt Review
  • Education / Employment
  • Employment
  • Fraud Investigation
  • Fraud Prevention
  • Insurance Application
  • Marketing Services
  • Other Legislation
  • On consumer instruction/consent
  • Score Development
  • Tracing
  • Unclaimed Funds

The above are abbreviated descriptions. For the full description, explanation and NCA references, click HERE.

pbVerify’s B2C credit check suite and is available after registration to any business that grants credit to other businesses or consumers.

 

*pbVerify’s Consumer Credit Check services include the Transunion ITC Credit Check; Compuscan Credit Check; Experian Credit Check; XDS Credit Check; pbVerify Credit Check; and our recently added Express Credit Score product (See related blog here).

 

REFERENCES

  1. National Credit Act 34 (2005)
  2. The Banking Association of South Africa website
  3. IOL – Who may see your credit report?
  4. pbVerify blog – Credit vetting: an essential key to SME success
  5. Compuscan’s “Prescribed purposes for access to consumer data” guide