Last week we learned about a bold plan from the European Banking Association to open up the banks infrastructure as a collaborative e-invoicing space. Or as they put it: “a Pan-European networks in which banks, service providers and other e-invoicing initiatives interoperate, compete and coexist.”
Why are the EU banks doing this? What are the objectives. How about all those other initiative? And, will the EU banks cooperate on this?
Also, when reading through the document (well the first 16 pages, those are the most interesting and it save paper), we felt it resembled a plan that Innopay unsuccessfully tried to launch in the Netherlands a few years. So that poses another and perhaps the most important question. Will this actually work?
What is the EU banking e-invoicing initiative all about?
The idea is to create:
- “a pan-European network of banks, e-invoicing service providers and e-invoicing initiatives
- to support mass adoption of e-invoicing
- through the provision of an environment for the exchange of invoices
- with optimum interoperability,
- leveraging the networks and capabilities of all participants
- and in so doing support them in offering services to end-customers.”
In short, it is a service that provides a pan-European e-invoicing network in which banks, service providers and other e-invoicing initiatives interoperate, compete and coexist.
First, why are the banks doing this?
This initiative came both as a surprise and as a long-awaited move. A surprising move, because until now banks tried to compete with e-invoicing service providers and now they are opening up and offering there network to service providers and are offering to cooperate in what the EBA calls a collaborative space.
But is also a long-awaited move because at a pan EU level, banks are not really gaining traction in the e-invoicing field, and they had to do at least something to (re)gain market share. In their words:
- Banks need to consider the potential disintermediation threat through not acting, and the consequent creation of alternative networks where their customers are being connected to new hubs.
- Banks wish to enter the market to supply services to such a large amount of corporates and SME, via e-invoicing service providers.
- The (European) banking industry has access through e-channels to literally tens of millions of customers, who are increasingly encouraged by (larger) trading entities to present or receive electronic invoices.
- E-invoicing service providers may find it challenging to recruit/on-board the sheer number of (smaller) enterprises for their clients. The banking infrastructure can help solve, reduce that problem.
Yet another e-invoicing initiative?
We love e-invoicing initiatives. Really, we do. In fact, we developed some of our own. Some worked out, some didn’t. But how to think of this initiative, when looking at other initiatives:
- SWIFT initiative on e-invoicing
- PEPPOL (=Pan European) on e-invoicing
- EESPA + CEN/ISSS interoperability agreements
- Large provider-specific networks
And what about internally: the banks within EBA. Are they willing to acknowledge the current market share of e-invoicing service provider and are the willing to open up?