Online banking accounting - is it safe?
Online accounting is a package of services carried out thanks to special software for independent online accounting with the support of specialists. The online solution does not require additional IT infrastructure from the entrepreneur (such as server cabinets, switches, routers) or access codes (as in the case of the boxed version) and therefore it enjoys increasing popularity. Banks also offer accounting services.However, is online banking safe? How does this service compare to other online accounting offers? We look at it in the article, analyzing the regulations of banks.
How to evaluate the quality of an online accounting program?
Before proceeding to analyzing the online accounting offer of banks, you should think about what such a service package should contain. It must be remembered that the decision to settle the company online should be associated with the simplification of activities related to accounting - while maintaining the full security of these processes, as well as the data that take part in them. It is also good to pay attention to the comprehensiveness of the service, which will save you time on all formalities.
When choosing an online accounting package, you should carefully consider the following:
updates of the system on which the service provider is based - ongoing updating of online accounting software ensures its compliance with applicable regulations. Due to frequent changes in tax and economic law, it is extremely important that the program is always adapted to them on time - otherwise entrepreneurs may face legal consequences, including financial penalties;
security policy - the entrepreneur is responsible for the security of employees 'and contractors' data, which he has due to the conducted activity. This is regulated by the Personal Data Protection Act - it should therefore be checked whether the online accounting system meets the requirements in this respect;
data storage - archiving of documents is an important issue, as it is required by Polish law. The entrepreneur is obliged to keep the accounting documentation for 5 years, and the personnel and payroll documentation - up to 10 years. It is therefore important that the service provider provides for this possibility;
quality certificate - a determinant of high standards of software operation according to international standards are also quality certificates. It is worth paying attention to whether the service provider has, for example, an ISO certificate;
compliance with the GDPR - the system should enable compliance with the provisions on the processing of personal data resulting from the GDPR, as well as ensure their backup stored on a properly secured server located in the European Economic Area;
conditions for a possible withdrawal of the service - a very important issue is the risk of withdrawal of the service and what happens in such a situation with the data that must be stored according to strict guidelines. It is worth checking whether the service provider allows such an eventuality and what he proposes in such a case;
complexity of the software - online self-accounting service should ensure that all matters are settled in one place; it is therefore important that the system has integrations to generate and send invoices; an additional advantage will be the possibility of direct sending from the JPK file system and ZUS declarations, bypassing intermediaries such as the Płatnik program;
substantive background of the service provider - the security of independent online accounting also depends on the substantive support of specialists from the accounting, human resources and payroll department or law, as well as technical support regarding the operation of the software. It is therefore important to find out how this type of assistance works within the service and whether access to it is not restricted.
Online banking accounting - analysis of the security of the services offered
The question arises whether online banking accounting meets the requirements specified above and thus ensures the security of the company settled in this way. To answer them, we looked at the provisions in the bank regulations that apply to the service in question.
Online banking accounting and data storage
The provisions in the regulations raise concerns as to the security of data - they do not guarantee their storage for a sufficiently long period required by law. Banks do not keep accounting records - this responsibility rests on the shoulders of the entrepreneur - in the event of an inspection by the Social Insurance Institution or tax authorities, he is therefore solely on his own in this matter.
This is mentioned, for example, in point 5.8. regulations of ING Bank Śląski:
5.8. For the elimination of doubts, the Operator's Services do not include:
storage of accounting and bookkeeping documentation;
representation in tax and administrative proceedings;
preparing financial statements, issuing invoices and other accounting documents on behalf of the client;
tax consultancy services within the meaning of the Act of 5 July 1996 on tax consultancy (Journal of Laws 2011.41.213 as amended);
submitting tax declarations and uniform control files (JPK) on behalf of the Client.
A similar provision can be found in § 3 of the PKO BP regulations:
9. Services provided by the Operator and support in accordance with par. 8 above do not include: accounting consultancy, tax consultancy, representation of the User in tax or administrative proceedings, preparation of financial statements, issuing of invoices and other accounting documents by the Operator on behalf of the User, storage by the Operator of accounting and HR documentation or personnel and payroll documentation of the User.
Differently, but with the same effect for the entrepreneur, this issue is presented in part XI in the mBank regulations:
5. The User is obliged to have the original documents recorded on the Website.
What does this mean for the entrepreneur? When using the bank's services, it has to store documents on its own - so it is doomed to accumulate piles of papers or to keep records on a computer at the same time. Either way - this matter remains his responsibility, even though online accounting should relieve him of this obligation.
Termination of online accounting banking services
Data storage is also associated with the risk of excluding the service from the banking offer if it ceases to be profitable for the bank for various reasons. An entrepreneur may be left on his own almost overnight, without the accounting system he has used so far.
This is evidenced by, among others such provisions as the following from the regulations of ING Bank Śląski:
4.17. The right to terminate the Agreement with immediate effect, by means of a written declaration to the other Party, is entitled to:
To the Client in the event of liquidation, bankruptcy or discontinuation of operations by the Operator;
The operator, in the event of bankruptcy, liquidation of the client or loss of the entrepreneur's status.
Similar content can be found in § 28 of Santander's regulations, which allows the accounting service only in integration with an intermediary company or through a specific type of bank account ("Mini Firma" account):
11. Termination of the Agreement or contract for accounting services concluded between the Customer and Infakt results in the disconnection of the Mini Firma internet service and the inFakt Accounting Service.
12. The Bank is not responsible for the actions taken by the Client in the Accounting inFakt website, or for the performance of the contract for accounting services concluded between the Client and Infakt.
Then the entrepreneur has to transfer all documentation to another system - re-enter all data. This can cause a lot of confusion and the necessity to quickly select another program (and in a hurry the choice may turn out to be wrong). In addition, the entrepreneur will also have to spend time learning about the operation of the new system. Its resources will therefore be allocated to the reorganization of work instead of further development and taking care of customers.
Online banking accounting - responsibility of a bank or entrepreneur?
By opting for online accounting, entrepreneurs hope to make their work easier: optimization of all accounting activities thanks to their maximum automation, while maintaining security standards. In other words, the online accounting service is designed to relieve entrepreneurs of some of the burden of responsibility and improve their work related to taking care of the formal aspects of running a business.
However, by choosing online banking accounting, entrepreneurs do not reduce the scope of their duties - they are still responsible for the correctness of submitted documents, their timely shipment or tracking legal changes. All shortcomings are an offense of the entrepreneur - in the eyes of the service provider, and as a result also of the Social Insurance Institution or the Ministry of Finance, it was he who neglected his obligations and did not read the bank's regulations.
This state of affairs is reflected in numerous regulations. Some of them are discussed below:
no responsibility for the content posted on Alior Bank's accounting service - the entrepreneur risks that his actions will be based on outdated tax and economic regulations, which may result in sanctions:
The website is not a website for tax consultancy or legal advice. All views, information, interpretations and solutions presented here are not intended to be strictly applied in practice, and the presented publications cannot be treated as interpretations of the law or recommendations regarding its application.
The publishing authors, the entity they represent, Partners and the Website are not responsible for the consequences of applying in practice the tax or legal information presented on the Website.
Solving tax and legal problems should take place on the basis of a detailed analysis of the facts by a tax advisor, legal advisor or advocate.
in the case of Alior Bank's accounting application - no responsibility for erroneous calculations, including, most importantly, tax calculations - an entrepreneur can therefore just as well make them manually, as they must verify those made by the application anyway:
Calculations made by the Accounting Application should be verified by the User, especially calculations made under public and legal obligations.
Calculations made by the Application are used by the User to the extent necessary for him and under his responsibility.
The Bank is not responsible for incorrect calculations of the accounting system and incorrectly entered Data by the User.
no responsibility for problems in sending documentation online at mBank (below is a fragment of part XI of the regulations) - as a result, facilitating the delivery of documents to relevant institutions by electronic means becomes another obstacle, and the bank suggests sending by post or delivering a personal declaration, which in the case of tax settlements As a rule, VAT is not possible:
The User is obliged to exercise care and caution in any unusual or significant transaction, and in case of doubt, seek professional advice.
The user of the My Accounting mOrganizer Finans Package is obliged to enter the documents for a given accounting month and close the month (no later than one day before the PIT payment date).
In the case of using the functionality of My Accounting in the mOrganizer Finans Package, if there is a problem with the electronic sending of the User's declaration or the User does not use the electronic sending of the declaration, the User is obliged, on the date of delivery of the declaration, personally deliver or send by mail the appropriate, signed declaration to the competent tax authority.
Online accounting systems were created to automate accounting processes, including sending relevant documents to competent authorities - so that a relieved entrepreneur could focus on other aspects of running a business - acquiring customers or developing the company. Therefore, the software should be designed in such a way that it does not require the entrepreneur to follow the regulations or to react quickly to system failures. The system should also make it easier for entrepreneurs to keep track of the deadlines in which they have to make commitments to ZUS and the Ministry of Finance, for example through notifications regarding the upcoming date of submitting the relevant documents. Mandatory, the system should ensure the possibility of sending electronic VAT returns and JPK VAT files.
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Online banking accounting and specialist consultancy
As already mentioned, when conducting independent online accounting, comprehensive support of specialists is important - otherwise, the entrepreneur is obliged to control all regulations and thoroughly know the rules of accounting for the company. Then, such a service does not de facto make any facilitation.
Moreover, the mere knowledge of the regulations turns out to be often insufficient due to the fact that they are written in a specialized language, and thus - they cannot be directly translated into the actual conditions they concern. In this case, therefore, an appropriate interpretation of the provisions and their adequate explanation is necessary.
The analysis of the provisions in the bank regulations regarding online banking showed that they do not provide an appropriate substantive base.
In the already quoted point 9 of its regulations, PKO BP expressly states that its services do not include, inter alia, accounting or tax consultancy.
Meanwhile, Alior bank in the point 3 quoted below offers selective support in the form of an accounting service:
The website enables Users to:
obtaining information on running a business and information in the field of, inter alia, finance, taxes, accounting and marketing,
exchange of experiences in the field of business activity,
support in the field of the company's accounting in the form of an accounting service,
use of special offers provided by the Service Partners,
advertising and establishing business relations in the Database of Entrepreneurs.
Therefore, the entrepreneur does not have the option of using more specific specialist support - in the event of questions and doubts regarding his specific situation, he must seek help elsewhere.
An issue related to the above problem is also the very specialization of banks. Despite the fact that accounting is inextricably linked with their activities, banks perceive and implement related issues from a different perspective than an entrepreneur would need. Thus, they do not provide him with solutions that will realistically support the daily functioning of his company.
Online banking accounting - does it contain the necessary tools?
Before making a decision, it is worth checking the functions of online banking accounting.For example, does it have the ability to keep records of fixed assets? Most entrepreneurs use cars in the company, but does the system provide that the entrepreneur may be required to make monthly depreciation charges? Will the system support the current accounting of vehicle-related expenses with limits such as 50% VAT and 75% of costs in the KPiR? Or will the entrepreneur have to make all calculations in separate records with a calculator in hand?
A good online accounting system should predict the company's growth and thus the events that may occur in it, and provide solutions that support the entrepreneur now and in the future.
Online banking accounting - fragmentation of services
The selectivity of the accounting services offered by banks, as shown above, prompts us to consider the legitimacy of such a solution. When using online banking accounting, the entrepreneur still has to control the current changes in the law, check the calculations made in the programs, and take into account the risk of various types of system failure - because ultimately he will be responsible for any oversight.
The conclusion is that online banking accounting can cause business owners more worry than good - in practice, such a service becomes another aspect that an entrepreneur must monitor - on which he must devote his time and other resources. Therefore, it will not use them in other areas - for the development of the company or rest.
The lack of complexity of the service means that instead of relieving the user, it only gives him new obligations in the field of checking the correctness of the system functioning, often including the calculations made there. Therefore, such an offer contradicts the sense of its existence - it seems to be just another way of banks to earn money - in the hope that the client will not be sufficiently familiar with the regulations, because the bank is, in his eyes, a trustworthy institution.
Moreover, only customers of a given bank have access to online banking accounting. Considering that the level of attractiveness of the offer of maintaining an account in a given bank does not have to coincide with the attractiveness of the online accounting service in the same institution, such a system severely limits the possibilities of an entrepreneur.
What is the entrepreneur supposed to do if during the fiscal year he finds a favorable loan or leasing offer in another bank? At this point, it will be difficult for him to transfer accounting to another system or start dealing with it entirely on his own - so he is in fact dependent on the current bank, and if it were not for the banking accounting service - he would have already changed the service provider. Therefore, the customer has a hard time leaving, and the bank - guaranteed earnings.
An alternative to online banking
The above discussion shows that online banking banking is not the best solution for an entrepreneur - especially in relation to other online self-bookkeeping opportunities available on the market.
An alternative is, among others, the wFirma.pl system. By using it, the entrepreneur is ensured safety:
the software takes into account changes in the law - the system is updated on an ongoing basis with all amendments relating to running a business, most often at night from Saturday to Sunday, in order to minimize the inconvenience of the entrepreneur related to the updates;
the documentation is properly secured - the system archives documents for the period specified by law, and in the event of resignation from the service - the company stores them for the next 5 years, taking over this obligation from the entrepreneur;
In addition, thanks to the regular Support, the entrepreneur can count on unlimited support from experienced specialists in the field of accounting, human resources and payroll, as well as law - they will answer his every question about the method of accounting or settlements with ZUS. In the event of technical problems, the system user will also receive immediate assistance.
Online accounting in the wFirma.pl system means not only security and substantive support, but also convenience based on the comprehensive nature of the service. When deciding on the package offered by the company, the entrepreneur does not have to worry about sending documents to the Social Insurance Institution and the Ministry of Finance - the integration of the system allows you to automate these activities and perform them without intermediary programs such as Płatnik, with one click. In turn, the ability to set up notifications regarding the upcoming shipment date of relevant documents will help the entrepreneur meet all deadlines.
The service in the wCompany system has been designed in such a way as to simplify the accounting obligations of the entrepreneur as much as possible and transfer as much of their burden as possible from the owner of the company to the automated accounting system. Therefore, the software also enables automatic generation and dispatch of invoices - in nine languages and in all currencies, with the possibility of automatic settlement of exchange rate differences.
These are just some of the amenities included in the online accounting service in the wFirma.pl system. Its creators know the realities faced by Polish entrepreneurs and therefore are able to meet their expectations - it is the accounting and personnel qualifications that work with programmers, thanks to which the final product is optimized to the needs of its recipient. The software is also constantly improved, also based on comments from users - thus it maintains a high level of adaptation to their requirements, and its operation is simple and intuitive.
More information about the offer is available at wFirma.pl - you can also get it during the free 30-day trial period. During this time, the entrepreneur has the opportunity to check all packages and evaluate the operation of the system.