Archive for Electronic Invoicing

European Commission: webpage on e-invoicing

November 25, 2008  |  Adoption, Electronic Invoicing

At the start of 2008, the European Commission has set up an Expert Group on the subject of electronic invoicing. The thirty members of the Expert Group should represent all key stakeholders concerning e-Invoicing. The members shall be appointed by the Commission from specialists with competence in the area of e-Invoicing on the basis of applications from industry associations, public sector bodies and individuals representing the interests of all or part of public sector, enterprises and ICT, consumers, financial service providers and standardisation organisations in the field of e-Invoicing.
 
It is expected that an interim report will be published early 2009, describing the proceedings on the work of the expert group up to now and presenting the aims to achieve in 2009 in areas of legal barriers, business requirements and network and standards. 
  
More information on the subject e-invoicing and related such as the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) and the intentions and ambitions on the European scale, please visit the website of the European Commission concerning e-invoicing.

Joint initiative to create a European e-invoicing solution

September 18, 2008  |  Adoption, Electronic Invoicing, Publications

Today, at SIBOS, ICBPI Group (Italy), Isabel (Belgium) and Equens (the Netherlands) announced that they will be joining forces in e-invoicing. The main goal of the founding partners – ICBPI and Equens – for this international initiative is to establish an open, multi-party, cross-border European e-invoicing network. The network must gain practical experience and actively contribute to the development of a standardised European e-invoicing product with maximum customer reach. For this purpose, ICBPI and Equens will set up one of the first cross-border pilots for e-invoicing networks within Europe. Service provider Isabel will be the first participant in this pilot.

European e-invoicing solution
ICBPI Group and Equens will cooperate to bridge local solutions, enabling banks, corporates and service providers to extend their reach in Europe. Equens will bridge domestic service providers in order to create European coverage in the distribution of e-invoicing. Isabel will contribute its e-invoicing knowledge and experience. Other parties are invited to join this initiative in order to expand the e-invoicing community as soon as possible.

The European Commission aims to establish a mature e-invoicing framework by 2010 at the latest. E-invoicing is a field that potentially offers excellent opportunities. Over 90 percent of all invoicing worldwide is still performed on paper. This usually involves an extremely inefficient process of printing, distributing, scanning and archiving paper and re-entering data. There are now hundreds of initiatives in place for electronic invoicing on a national level. A specific, joint and international initiative is therefore an important next step.

According to Equens, invoicing should be as easy as paying. Michael Steinbach, Chairman of Equens’ Board of Directors: “We strongly believe that staying ahead in the European payment-processing market requires looking beyond the payments discipline as such. It requires in-depth knowledge of the future needs of banks and their customers, of technology and of applications.”

“As a market leader in payments and electronic invoicing services in Italy, we are focused on providing the best services in the Customer-to-Bank area,” says Giuseppe Capponcelli, Managing Director of ICBPI Group. “This cross-border joint initiative on e-invoicing will allow us to be a first mover in the European scenario and to enhance our corporate banking services. The first International e-invoicing pilot is a win-win initiative that allows the founding partners to extend their reachability to other important trade markets, as well as enabling ICBPI to offer competitive advantages to banks and more benefits to their corporate customers.”

As one of the leading providers of e-invoicing and electronic banking services in Belgium, Isabel is the first participant in this European e-invoicing initiative. Isabel will draw on its technical and business expertise in the SME market to contribute to the success of this e-invoicing pilot project. “This pilot project is a great opportunity to enhance our experience in electronic invoicing and to promote interoperability at European level,” says Luc Van Hecke, International Sales Manager of Isabel S.A.

About Equens
Equens SE is the first truly pan-European, full-service payment processor. As one of the largest and most innovative payment processors in Europe, Equens is leading the market for future-proof payments and card processing solutions. Thanks to an extensive and competitive service portfolio and a flexible, customer-orientated approach, the company seamlessly meets the requirements of the European payments market. With an annual volume of 7.3 billion payments and 2.1 billion POS and ATM transactions, Equens has a market share of more than 15% within the euro zone. By continuously pursuing further growth and translating the achieved synergy benefits and economies of scale into advantages for the customer, the company contributes to the efficiency of European payments.

For additional information, please visit http://www.equens.com

About ICBPI
The ICBPI Group is made up of highly specialised companies focusing on the design, planning and management of services for banks, financial institutions and insurance companies. ICBPI S.p.A. is specialised in traditional and innovative payment services, as well as financial and administrative services offered according to a BPO model. ICBPI also offers innovative and efficient solutions for the outsourced management of domestic and international payment systems (SEPA-compliant) for banks, Public Administrations and other companies. Key Client is focused on electronic payment systems (Cards, POS and ATM) and with HelpPhone on customer care services through a contact center. Oasi is a market leader in services such as managed systems, financial transaction tracking, reporting to the Central Bank, anti-money laundering and regulation compliance, retirement insurance fund management and data security.

For additional information, please visit http://www.icbpi.it

About Isabel
Isabel is a professional software developer and service provider specialising in bank automation and electronic invoicing. Isabel’s solutions are used by many financial institutions and associations all over Europe. 30 banks and 110,000 companies in Belgium are using Isabel online services. The Zoomit application developed by Isabel is integrated with the Internet banking solutions of the most important banks. It enables millions of consumers and SMEs to take advantage of e-invoicing technology. Isabel was founded in 1995 and has 130 employees.

For more information, please visit http://www.isabel.eu

Weblog: Postal Operators And E-billing

September 16, 2008  |  Electronic Invoicing, Publications

E-invoicing as well as E-mail, has had an enormous impact on European postal operators in more recent years with operators becoming even more reliant on the delivery of advertising to help fund the cost of the Universal Service and the trend in stamped mail volume is still downward as more businesses persuade customers to change over to internet billing.

However, according to a recent survey conducted in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany during the spring of 2008, Finland has yet to make any headway with regard to switching to the e-invoicing of consumers, even though it is already one of the international leaders in business-to-business e-invoicing.

According to an extensive Itella Information survey, Denmark presently holds the lead in both consumer and business e-invoicing. Consumer interviews were used to investigate over 3,300 people’s experiences of e-invoicing. More than 1,600 people were interviewed with regard to business-to-business invoicing.

According to Finland’s postal operator Itella, Finnish people seem to think that being able to pay their bills through their online bank is quite enough. The majority of consumers still receive hard copies of their invoices, while too few people even contemplate receiving e-invoicing.

According to the survey, consumers in the Nordic countries and Germany receive roughly the same number of invoices – around 7 to 8 per person monthly. Hard copy is still the most common invoice format, with the exception of Denmark. In all of the countries, however, hard copies’ share of all invoices has decreased since 2006.

The Finns and Danes exhibit contrasting conduct with regard to payment, too. In Finland, online banking is commonly used for payments, while few invoices are received there. Danes commonly receive reminders of their due invoices through an online bank, but favour direct debiting.

The Danish infrastructure makes the switch-over to e-invoices easy for consumers. Direct debiting, common in Denmark, also supports a switch-over to e-invoicing. These factors at least partly explain why Denmark is ahead of us. We have similar experiences in Norway and Estonia, says Savolainen.

In Finland, almost 80 per cent of large companies plan on sending the majority of their invoices in electronic format within 2 to 3 years. Among SMEs, Finnish ones are the most eager to make the switch to e-invoicing. Some 78 per cent of Finnish SMEs believe that they will be solely or partially using e-invoicing within the following 2 to 3 years.

According to the survey, almost all businesses and organisations intend to make the switch to e-invoicing in the forthcoming years. The only exception is Germany, in which only 65 per cent are considering this. The underlying reason for Finnish businesses’ enthusiasm for e-invoicing is the desire to achieve time and cost savings through this invoicing method.

Published by: Mark White – © Hellmail.co.uk – Postal Industry News

Weblog: An aria to e-invoicing

September 15, 2008  |  Electronic Invoicing, Publications

The last bit of my day today was chairing a discussion on e-invoicing.  This is a regular debating slot I host on the IBM booth each year, and it’s now in its third year.  This afternoon’s debate included Charles Bryant, former Chairman of the EPC and now working on e-invoicing with the EBA, and Bo Harald who chairs the European Commission’s e-invoicing working group.

It shocks me that e-invoicing has now been on my radar since 2004 and yet it’s not much further on.  With bank margins being slashed thanks to SEPA and other competitive forces, you would think the value-adding services to corporates, such as e-invoicing, would be way up there on top of the agenda. 

And yet, I don’t see it.
I see a few banks doing stuff and, as Bo said, six of the EU nations mandating that e-invoices must be used but, apart from a few isolated examples, it is still small beans with 95% of EU invoices being processed on paper.

With 24 million small businesses in the EU, and the cost of invoicing being around €50 to process for an average paper invoice, this is ludicrous.  But who am I to judge?

What was interesting for me is that out of this debate a new angle appeared.  The audit angle.

If EU banks and corporates are serious about compliance, the fact that the electronic trail of an invoice from origination through delivery to processing will be a critical reason for change.  After all, if you can track the e-invoice and its associated Purchase Orders, Delivery Documentation and Remittances, you now have a perfect e-trail for the audit and tax office.  Compare that with the bits of lost and dog-eared papers that most firms produce today and you can see why, in about five years, everyone anticipates half of all invoicing will be processed electronically.

After that debate I was immediately out of the conference anyway, as I was serious.  I’m off to the opera house to see Verdi’s La forza del destino with Nina Stemme, Carlos Alvarez, Marcello Giordani and Ain Anger.

Why?
Because Vienna hosts one of the best opera houses in Europe and, with parties and dinners all week, I thought I’d be a good boy tonight.

Tomorrow?
That’s another day!

Published by: The FinanSer

Legal uncertainty hinders electronic invoicing, says EU task force

September 6, 2008  |  Adoption, Electronic Invoicing

Electronic invoicing is underused across the EU due to technical complexity, legal uncertainty and operational constraints, according to a European Commission task force. A new e-invoicing framework could cut business supply chain costs by €243 billion, it claims.

Invoicing is central to the cash flow and liquidity of any trading organisation. Small improvements in efficiency can improve working capital, reduce gearing and bring better liquidity. The report by the Commission’s Informal Task Force on e-Invoicing cites research claiming that the average processing cost of a paper invoice across Europe is around €30. E-invoicing can cut that cost by 80%, it says.

A legal framework for e-invoicing is in place currently, but it does not work as it should, according to the report, which was published in July. Consequently, private and public sector organisations continue their reliance upon paper invoices.

The E-invoicing Directive, passed in 2001, required Member States to recognise the validity of electronic invoices and allow electronic storage. It set out mandatory items of information that must be included on every invoice; but it gave each Member State discretion to decide the details of the implementing legislation.
This discretion has resulted in diverse national laws. Some countries’ regimes are very strict and mistakes may result in e-invoices being classed as non-compliant for tax purposes, triggering penalties that can include fines and even imprisonment.

The report gives examples of the problems that exist today. In some countries, electronic invoices are subject to rigorous security requirements that the report describes as “overkill”. Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Hungary require digital signatures on e-invoices. These so-called qualified signatures must be based on digital certificates issued to natural persons – i.e. they cannot be based on a company’s certificate, according to the report.

Storage requirements for e-invoices also vary. Estonia allows complete freedom on the storage location for electronic invoices; Germany allows storage only in an EU Member State. The period for which e-invoices must be stored varies too: the mandatory period is three years in France and 10 years in Germany.

The report says the legal position is so complex for buyers and sellers because “e-invoicing lies at the crossroads of several areas of legislation – mainly VAT, accounting, payment, authentication, company transparency and data retention.”

The report recommends documenting all legal issues and developing the EEI Framework as a formal Recommendation of the European Commission. Current barriers should be addressed within a period of 18 months, it says.

The initial focus will be the Business to Business (B2B) market, followed by Business to Consumer (B2C) and Government to Citizen (G2C).

See: The European electronic invoicing report (38-page/203.1KB PDF)

From: the Out-Law.com

 

Finland still lagging behind in consumer e-invoicing

September 5, 2008  |  Adoption, Electronic Invoicing

Denmark holds lead in consumer and business e-invoicing
Finland has yet to make any headway with regard to switching to the e-invoicing of consumers, even though we are already one of the international leaders in business-to-business e-invoicing. According to an extensive Itella Information survey, Denmark holds the lead in both consumer and business e-invoicing. The survey was conducted in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany during the spring of 2008. Consumer interviews were used to investigate over 3,300 people’s experiences of e-invoicing. More than 1,600 people were interviewed with regard to business-to-business invoicing.

The fact that Finland is still in last place in consumer e-invoicing can be considered a blemish on our society’s reputation. We compare favourably with regard to b-to-b e-invoicing, meaning that we have all the technological tools to replicate that success in the consumer sector. Finnish people seem to think that being able to pay their bills through their online bank is quite enough. The majority of consumers still receive hard copies of their invoices, while too few people even contemplate receiving e-invoicing. But does the underlying reason lie in our not having been sufficiently proactive in motivating consumers to switch to e-invoicing? asks Director Miikka Savolainen of Itella Information Oy.

According to the survey, consumers in the Nordic countries and Germany receive roughly the same number of invoices ? around 7 to 8 per person monthly. Hard copy is still the most common invoice format, with the exception of Denmark. In all of the countries, however, hard copies’ share of all invoices has decreased since 2006.

Denmark is in a class of its own with regard to e-invoicing. Only 32 per cent of Danish people nowadays report that they receive their invoices primarily in hard copy format. In the other countries around 75 per cent of consumers receive their invoices primarily in hard copy format. The Danes receive their e-invoices through both the online bank and invoice issuers’ websites or invoice and e-commerce portals.

The Danes can be considered trailblazers in consumer e-invoicing, while Finland and Germany lag behind. In Finland, the number of consumers requesting a hard copy invoice has been decreasing since 2006. Presently, 86 per cent of Finns receive their invoices in hard copy format, but in the future, 50 per cent of Finns hope to receive hard copies of their invoices. In Sweden, the number of people preferring hard copies has remained constant. In Germany, as many as 65 per cent of consumers would like to receive their invoices as letters in the future as well, says Savolainen.

The Finns and Danes exhibit contrasting conduct with regard to payment, too. In Finland, online banking is commonly used for payments, while few invoices are received there. Danes commonly receive reminders of their due invoices through an online bank, but favour direct debiting.

The Danish infrastructure makes the switch-over to e-invoices easy for consumers. Direct debiting, common in Denmark, also supports a switch-over to e-invoicing. These factors at least partly explain why Denmark is ahead of us. We have similar experiences in Norway and Estonia, says Savolainen.

Businesses transition towards e-invoicing ? the large followed by the small
In Finland, almost 80 per cent of large companies plan on sending the majority of their invoices in electronic format within 2 to 3 years. Among SMEs, Finnish ones are the most eager to make the switch to e-invoicing. Some 78 per cent of Finnish SMEs believe that they will be solely or partially using e-invoicing within the following 2 to 3 years.

According to our survey, almost all businesses and organisations intend to make the switch to e-invoicing in the forthcoming years. The only exception is Germany, in which only 65 per cent are considering this. The underlying reason for Finnish businesses’ enthusiasm for e-invoicing is the desire to achieve time and cost savings through this invoicing method, Savolainen states.

Finnish businesses to refuse hard copy invoices in the future
Some 75 per cent of large Finnish companies are receiving e-invoices at the moment. Denmark can equal these numbers, while other countries have not advanced this far.

Finnish businesses will be adopting a zero tolerance policy in the near future. Not even one of the respondents believed they would be exclusively receiving hard copy invoices in a few years. In Germany, on the other hand, little progress is expected, since even 42 per cent of the major corporations believed they would be receiving all their invoices in hard copy format, states Savolainen.

According to the survey, Finnish SMEs will be switching to e-invoicing in a more pronounced fashion than elsewhere.

Enthusiasm for switching to e-invoicing in the coming years runs high among small businesses, too. In Finland, more than half of SMEs expected to receive their invoices exclusively or almost exclusively in the e-invoice format in a few years, Savolainen explains.

Source: Itella.com

Co-operation between Basware and Expert Systems increases e-invoicing

September 4, 2008  |  Electronic Invoicing


Basware and Expert Systems have entered into an agreement to further expand e-invoicing in Sweden. Customers of Expert Systems are now able to send e-invoices to all Basware customers and vice versa.
Customers of Expert Systems have previously been able to send e-invoices to other customers. As a result of the new e-invoicing operator connection between Expert Systems and Basware, Expert System customers can send e-invoices to all Basware customers without any additional configuration.

The connection works both ways meaning that Basware customers are also able to send to all Expert System customers without additional configuration.

For more information, please contact Petri Karjalainen, Managing Director, Basware Einvoices Ltd Mobile +358 40 741 6041 For more information, please contact Ewa Klevebro, Sales Director, Expert Systems Phone: +46 (0)70 699 29 30

About Basware
Basware is the global leader in purchase-to-pay solutions with more than 1,200 customers and 650,000 users in over 50 countries around the world. Basware solutions automate business-critical financial processes and deliver value by providing compliance and control, as well as fast return on investment. The solutions are distributed and implemented in Europe, the US, and Asia-Pacific through an extensive network of Basware offices and business partners.

In 2007, net sales reached EUR 73 million. The growth target for net sales for 2008 is 15–25%. Founded in 1985, Basware Corporation is a public company listed on the Nordic Exchange Helsinki. Headquartered in Finland, it has seven subsidiaries in Europe and one in the US. www.basware.com

Weblog: Paper invoices have NO future

August 17, 2008  |  Electronic Invoicing, Publications

It is evident – paper invoices will disappear from the business to business and business to government sectors and then later in practise also in the business to consumer/government to citizen area. The 5 mega-class reasons are exceptionally powerful and clear to see. Everyone will benefit – especially the consumers and tax payers.

It is only a question of time.

And how this can be very short.
In the EU Expert Group work it is becoming clear that there are two domains:

1. Mindset
Once the mindset is that there is NO future for this wasteful practise things will start to happen. And it is already – public sectors in 6 countries and many progressive enterprises have declared e-invoicing mandatory (with near or already passed deadlines). 10 more EU-countries have similar plans. As these heavy duty players defacto force invoice senders to take the step and the market has come up with the needed open standards and economical tools it is inevitable that e-invoicing will be used in all directions. Paper invoices will quickly become an oddity.

Spreading the awareness that paper invoices have NO future is clearly the top priority.

2. Removing obstacles and increasing enablers for a wider unified market
Much of the progress happening now is by necessity countryspecific. Nothing wrong with that – on the contrary – efforts towards moving with the slowest should be firmly resisted. Interoperabity is not that difficult to achieve and move to the coming common mass market standard will anyway take time. But for those who realize how much the continuos improvement in the wellbeing of European citizens is dependent on unifying European markets it is evident that firmer action should be taken also in the crossborder dimension of this omnipresent – and thus so potential document. Economic strength is both a question of scale and today even more of moving faster into the technology-enabled innovation space. Some argue that the share of crossborder invoices out of the total number of 30 billion is so small that there is limited needs for EU efforts. Here one should remember that the very reason for both payments and invoicing being so local and fragmented has been national regulation and infrastructure. Now we are moving towards one-bank-account-being-enough for all of the €-area. What could be the reason for it not being possible to send invoices in the same way? With the right mindset it should not be particularly difficult. But of course it takes the right attitude:

1. the e-invoicing service must be irresistably easy to use for the 24m SMEs (just like payments are starting to be)

2. there must not – in the base case – be any need to invest or install software – just a template in a secure environment – this makes both the knowledge and financial threshold disappear

3. all services where authenticity and integrity is on an acceptable level must be accepted – technology-neutrality (no mandatory PKI seriously adding cost and complexity)

4. electronic documents should not be treated essentially differently from paper documents – they are anyway automatically more safely transmitted and have traceability (the opportunity to fight fraud should naturally be used by creating rules for the network)

Excellent progress is being made – but there is naturally much more to do. But it all starts with the mindset – understanding the inevitability and the reasons for why it should really be speeded up and contribute to a stronger Europe sooner rather than too late.

Published by: Bo Harald

A Control Framework for e-Invoicing

August 15, 2008  |  Electronic Invoicing, Publications

Today’s business processes are to a large extent still paper-based, which results in inefficiencies as paper needs to be forwarded from one employee in a firm to the next either in the same firm or in another firm before it reaches its final destination.
 
Read more… 

Source: Twist

Infrastructures for electronic invoicing in B2G transactions

July 24, 2008  |  Adoption, Electronic Invoicing

The government of the Netherlands is aiming to be able to process 10% of incoming invoices (i.e. around one million invoices) electronically within three years. The benefits will include corresponding improvements in efficiency, reductions in errors and cost savings. Yet e-invoicing does not seem to be taking off. That is why the Ministry of Economic Affairs has commissioned Telematica Instituut and Zenc, within the framework of its Electronic Invoicing Action Plan, to conduct a detailed study of a number of scenarios related to the government’s e-invoicing infrastructure.

The study will produce a selection tool to generate scenarios for the organisation of the e-invoicing infrastructure. The selection tool will take account of such considerations as organisational aspects (whether the work is done in-house or outsourced), security (the authenticity and integrity of the invoice) and invoice validation and transformation.

The project will run for ten weeks, with the final report being presented to the Ministry in mid-August.

For more information: Bob.Hulsebosch@telin.nl or Paul.OudeLuttighuis@telin.nl