APIs continue to work their way into just about every part of the digital economy. The latest example of that is Subledger, a startup that offers a suite of APIs that enable developers to integrate accounting functionality into their applications.
The company, which is backed by prominent venture firms Andreessen Horowitz and Draper Associates, pitches its offering as a scalable, easy-to-integrate solution for companies to manage transactions that take place in their web and mobile applications. For transactions that don't take place in applications that are integrated with its API, Subledger has also built a web-based interface and iOS app that can be used to create entries manually.
"At scale accounting for in-application transactions become unwieldy," the company explains. Building a subledger system from scratch or adopting a large enterprise solution can be costly and resource-intensive. The company's proposition: "mash up your payment API and Subledger to automate the payments and bookkeeping part of your back office."
There's an API for That, but Should You Use It?
Accounting may not be sexy, but it's a critical business function. Because of its importance, it frequently presents a variety of challenges. According to Subledger, "Bookkeeping and financial reporting is a labor-intensive monthly process for the finance team that scales with payment volume. The stopgap solution is to add more people to the finance department." Subledger, of course, believes that utilizing its platform is a better solution.
In a Hacker News discussion, however, some questioned whether relying on a third-party platform for accounting functions is a good idea, particularly because of the importance and sensitivity of the financial data involved. One person suggested, "Something like [this] would be much better in the form of a library that companies can integrate into their code."
But Subledger's Tom Mornini, who co-founded platform-as-a-service provider Engine Yard, thinks an API-based solution does make sense, and he pointed to the widespread use of Salesforce and QuickBooks Online as evidence of the fact that companies are increasingly comfortable storing their most valuable and sensitive information in the cloud.
"We believe strongly that a huge new API economy is being built, [and] we're delighted to offer our accounting API … to people who do not wish to build and manage it themselves," Mornini wrote.