Foreign Currency support in Easy Books

Submitted by mathew on Thu, 27/08/2015 - 17:52

I'm pleased to announce Easy Books now supports multiple currencies. Easy Books handles 150+ currencies with exchange rates updated hourly. It also tracks historical rates, just add transactions and let Easy Books find the rate applicable at the time. Run a Profit & Loss report to show all your realised and unrealised gains.

If you have a bank account in a foreign currency you can now set it up in Easy Books. If you invoice one of your customers in a different currency, you can do that too. The app will keep track of the amounts in each currency. This means the value of these accounts changes from day to day as exchange rates change. Earning JPY 100,000 from a sale at the start of the month may have a different value to the business when payment is received at a later date. Easy Books keeps track of the exchange rate gains or losses and records them in the financial reports.


A base currency can be set for each business you use in Easy Books. This defines the currency of the business itself. All income and expense accounts are set to this currency automatically. Most other accounts can be set up to use a different currency. For example, you can add a new bank account and choose the currency. Easy Books will then keep track of amounts in that currency.

Which currencies are supported?

Easy Books handles over 150 world currencies, with exchange rates updated hourly. It also tracks Bitcoin (BTC) and some common commodities such as Gold (XAU) and Silver (XAG).

How do I set up a foreign currency?

Each account can be set to use a particular currency in its Account Details. This can only be done before the account is referenced in transactions. Once the account contains transactions the currency is locked and can no longer be changed.

Which account categories are supported?

The following account categories support foreign currencies:

  • Bank accounts
  • Petty cash
  • Credit cards
  • Customers
  • Suppliers
  • Fixed assets
  • Debtors
  • Other assets and liabilities
  • Creditors
  • Investments
  • Prepayments
  • Accrual
  • Long-term liabilities

The following account categories do not support foreign currencies. Accounts in these categories are managed in the business currency.

  • Expenses (Direct, Indirect and Employee costs)
  • Income
  • VAT accounts
  • Equity accounts
How are exchange rate gains and losses handled?

As transactions are entered, the amounts for each currency are recorded. Typically there are gains or losses as time goes on because of variations in exchange rates. These divide into two types; realised and unrealised gains/losses.

Unrealised gains/losses

In the simplest case, you might transfer money from one bank account to another in a foreign currency. Easy Books obtains the exchange rate for the date of the transaction and uses it to fill in the foreign currency amount. However, banks usually charge a commission, so assuming both accounts have bank statements, when you reconcile the statements you set the actual amounts. Easy Books re-values foreign currency accounts into the business currency, and typically this amount will differ from the amount initially transferred. Any difference represents an unrealised gain or loss and will appear on your Profit and Loss report as well as your other financial reports.

Realised gains/losses

For some transactions there may be a gain or loss at the time of the transaction. For example, if a supplier invoices you in a foreign currency you can enter the purchase in that currency. The exchange rate is used to obtain a purchase value in the business currency to record in the expense account you select. When you later pay the invoice, any difference in exchange rate represents a realised gain/loss and is recorded in the "Exchange rate gains" account under Other Income.

Background Information

Accounting in more than one currency is much more difficult than a single currency. The main problem is how to handle the case where a foreign currency sale is made one side of the financial year and payment for it is received in the next. It is likely that even when payment is received in full the exchange rate will have changed. In that case the amount that was originally booked as income is not correct, there will be either additional income or a loss depending on the rate change. Easy Books solves this problem by calculating an amount in the business currency for every foreign currency transaction. It keeps track of the foreign currency amounts and the converted amounts. When payment is received, the whole foreign currency amount may be received, leaving the customer balance as zero. But the business currency amount will most likely differ, leaving a non-zero amount in the customer account. This amount is the "unconverted" amount shown in some of the financial reports. To find the gain, Easy Books revalues all foreign currency accounts in the business currency and subtracts the unconverted amount for each one. The total left is the gain (or loss) due to changes in exchange rate and is shown in the Profit & Loss report.

When I'm thinking about adding features, I'm mindful of keeping the app simple and easy to use. After all, that's the app's purpose: the clue's in the name! I knew this feature is only going to be used by a minority because most businesses only use one currency. So I was looking to add software support for foreign currencies for those that want it without making any changes to how it works for everyone else. That's been quite a challenge.

A few other things have been difficult too. A lot of people still run Easy Books on older devices such as the 1st generation iPad, or Macs running OS X Lion. These devices cannot be updated to run the current version of Easy Books. Adding new features like this means big changes to the internal structure of the database. Devices that are not capable of running the update might not understand the new format, which is a problem for anyone using the Online Sync service because they may have a mixture of old and new versions of Easy Books and that all need to work together. Providing support for foreign currencies in the updated version while still allowing old versions to work alongside was a huge challenge.

What does it cost?

Up to date pricing information is available on the Pricing page, but here is the price for November 2015:

U.K. (GBP) U.S. Australia
Foreign Currencies (iOS) 29.99 US$39.99 AU$49.99
Foreign Currencies (Mac) 29.99 US$39.99 AU$49.99

The Foreign Currencies feature is available in our Gold Plan.

How do I get it?

These new capabilities are only available in the newest versions of Easy Books, so check for updates to make sure you have the latest version available. If you're unsure about how to update your copy, follow the links below to find out.

  • Easy Books version 5 for OS X 10.10 or later.

    If you're using a Mac, note that Easy Books runs on OS X 10.10 "Yosemite" or later. If you're using an older OS such as Lion, Mountain Lion or Mavericks you will no longer receive updates to Easy Books. The update for Mac is currently only available from the web site. If you're running the Mac App Store edition, you can download the update from the web site.

  • Easy Books version 9 for iOS 8 or later. Update from the App Store. Just open the "App Store" app and tap the Updates tab at the bottom.

To activate the feature, open Easy Books and find "Foreign Currencies" in the add-ons screen.



Invoicing

  • Invoice customers in their own currency.
  • Receive payments and let Easy Books keep track of any gains or losses resulting from exchange rate changes.
  • Prepare customer statements in their currency.
  • Supplier accounts also support foreign currencies in the same way: a supplier invoicing in a foreign currency can now be modelled in Easy Books using their currency. You can enter purchase invoices and payments made in their currency.
  • When adding a payment transaction, you may know both the foreign currency amount and the value to you. In that case you can override the calculated amount by just overtyping. If you don't know the amount you can let Easy Books fill in the amount based on the exchange rate in use.

Bank Accounts

  • Enter transactions in the currency of the account.
  • View the list of transactions in the account currency.
  • Reconcile bank statements in the account currency. For a transaction in a foreign currency, you can reconcile the currency amounts separately. For example, a transaction between a USD and GBP account can be reconciled in both accounts, and the amount can be edited to match that shown on the statement in each currency.
  • View exchange rate gains or losses in reports.

Financial Reporting

  • Unrealised gains and losses due to changes in exchange rates are displayed in reports when applicable.
  • Profit & Loss takes gains/losses into account when calculating profit.
  • Trial Balance converts all foreign currency amounts to the business currency.
  • Accounts by category displays amounts in account currency, converted amounts in the business currency and gains/losses for each account.
  • Transactions by account lists transactions in the currency of the account, showing the total debits, credits and balance.
  • Transactions by category lists transactions in each currency in use. The final balances show the balances in each currency.
  • Audit shows all accounts with transactions in the account currency and converted to the business currency.
  • Best Customers groups customers by currency, converting subtotal amounts into the business currency so you can easily compare customer sales and payments regardless of which currency was used.
  • Customer Aged Debt groups customers by currency showing the debt amounts in the customer currency with a subtotal showing the equivalent value in the business currency.
  • Supplier reports use the same format as customer reports (above).

Exchange Rate Data

  • Exchange rates are obtained automatically as required. For example, when entering a transaction or running a report over a date range.
  • View exchange rates that have been used by Easy Books in the currency settings area.
  • Manually set or override exchange rates either per day or over a range of dates.
  • Historical exchange rate data is available from 2010.
  • The rates used in Easy Books are mid-market rates (between the "buy" and "sell" rates).

Known issues when syncing with older versions of Easy Books

Support for foreign currencies was added to Easy Books in 2015. There are many copies of the app that have not been or will not be updated to the new version. Some devices are not capable of updating to the new version of the app, for example devices running an older version of the OS cannot usually update to the new version of Easy Books. It is possible for these older versions to sync with the new version, but there are some known issues to bear in mind:

  • Older versions of Easy Books will display statement balances for foreign accounts in the foreign currency but will display transaction values in business currency.
  • Older versions will not show unrealised exchange rate gains. Instead, the older version will show the transaction value in the business currency. The amounts shown in financial reports will not match because the older version lacks the ability to re-value the foreign currency accounts.
  • Editing a transaction on an older version of the app that contains a foreign currency will cause the foreign currency amount to be zeroed. It is recommended to only edit transactions in the business currency on the older versions of the app.