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September 18, 2008  |  Adoption, Publications

…and ensure yourself of the latest developments on e-invoicing and complementary domains, such as credit management and payments. Read More

4th eBIF Conference ‘e-Business interoperability practice’ in Utrecht (NL)

September 18, 2008  |  Adoption, Events, Publications

e-Business interoperability practice: examples, impacts and standardization challenges’ 

Day 1 – 8 December 2008
Programme starts 10.00

Opening by Peter Potgieser, ABN AMRO, Chairman CEN/ISSS e-Business Interoperability Forum and Equens speaker

Keynote: ICT standardization and eBusiness policy developments
Costas Andropoulos, Head of Unit, European Commission, Enterprise and Industry Directorate General

Practical examples papiNet implementation and deployment practice
Tom Meniga, Managing Director, Freecom

eBIZ-TIC project – eBusiness standards pilots in the textile and footwear industry
Piero De Sabbata or Milena Stefanova, ENEA eTrade UN/CEFACT speaker Interoperability between eInvoicing systems Anachron speaker Questions and answers

RFID and the Internet of things
Speaker from the European Commission, Information Society and Media Directorate General (tbc)

Beyond SOA: interoperability challenges in the Digital Ecosystem era
Pierfranco Ferronato, Chief Architect, Soluta.Net

ICT implications for energy consumption and growth
Reinhard Madlener, E.ON Energy Research Centre (tbc)


Day 2 – Tuesday 9 December 2008 
Programme starts 09.30

Critical issues – Title to be confirmed
Paul van Exel, USPI (tbc)

Education in e-business standards and standardization policy
Speaker to be confirmed

Methodologies for Global eBusiness test beds
Speaker tbc 
For more information, visit the website of CEN


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

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

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

Blogpost: Keep it simple stupid – useful rule for all of us.

September 17, 2008  |  Publications

Published by/at:

© Networked Economy – Bo Harald / Wed, 17 Sep 2008 09:12:00 GMT

Nobody seems to be of the opinion that paper invoices have any future worth mentioning. In yesterday’s SIBOS session here in Vienna there was an even surprisingly overwhelming yes-vote for banks to include e-invoicing into their services. So the mindset is there. And when organisations like SWIFT mobilize resources a high quality standardization work will start to produce also longer term benefits.


There is still a lot of players who keep stressing how difficult and exceedingly complex it all is. Is it? Yes – it can be if you look at it only from the procurement value chain angle and still today variancies in VAT-rules. No – if you look at it from the payment initiation angle and nationally. And this is what the EU work is focusing on – to give the SMEs in EU a 0-investment and 0-itskill tool for sending invoices with sufficient data fields to satisfy also large organisation receiving them. One tool that works in all directions – just like payments. And by accepting the authenticity and auditability that the payment industry is delivering the VAT-issues are solved in practise.

It is of course a habit of vendors to stress the complexity – it can be good for sales figures. But in this case I believe that is outrightly counterproductive for all as it confuses the market and scares away both enterprises and new services providers – thus the network effect.

E-invoicing does not have to be complex – we know it from our experience. So now it is up to the banking communities to sit down and agree on the very simple approach – form the network, include also non-banks, take a suitable version of ready financial invoice standards in use right away and include it just-like-payments in ordinary e-banking.

Keep it simple stupid – useful rule for all of us.

02-12-2008: CBI/ABI event – Forum on e-Invoicing in Rome

September 16, 2008  |  Adoption, Events, Publications

On December 2nd and 3rd 2008, a forum is dedicated to amongst others international developments on electronic invoices, the analysis of international scenarios and the in-depth examination of business and technical aspects of the new advanced services dedicated to banks and enterprises. The event will take place in Rome.

This is the agenda of the event.

If you are interested in visiting this event, you can view the registration form here.



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 – © – Postal Industry News

Compliance complexity inhibits implementing e-invoicing

September 15, 2008  |  Adoption, Publications

Complexity of compliance is inhibiting almost half of European businesses from implementing e-Invoicing

At SIBOS, Sterling Commerce, an AT&T Inc (NYSE:T) company, today unveiled research revealing that European businesses are struggling to fully exploit the benefits of electronic invoicing and are held back by a fear of complexity in addressing regulatory compliance requirements and legislation.

At a time when achieving cost efficiencies and effective resource utilization is crucial to maintaining competitive differentiation, the move from paper-based to electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) comes as a key opportunity for businesses today. In spite of this, the research found that 40 percent of European companies are yet to make a decision to implement an automated e-invoicing solution.

The survey, conducted by independent research company Vanson Bourne across 400 IT managers in the UK, France, Germany and Italy, found that the most pressing e-invoicing concern for European businesses is compliance with national e-invoicing legislation. In addition, with 72 percent of European companies currently conducting business in more than six countries around the world, more than half admitted they were concerned about supporting disparate e-invoicing solutions across multiple geographies. A quarter of responses also negatively highlighted the complexities associated with implementing multiple solutions to handle value added tax (VAT) compliance and audit requirements across the countries in which they operate. 

“Knowing that more than half of the correspondents are doing business in the U.S. as well, the results are staggering that more than half of European businesses are struggling to effectively conduct business across global barriers,” said Chris Johnson, vice president, global management and marketing, B2B Integration for Sterling Commerce.  “The benefits of moving from paper-based to e-invoicing are widely known and accepted, yet the reality for many businesses is that even for e-invoicing projects that do receive budget approval, a dependence on multiple solutions to handle compliance with multiple VAT and tax regulations across different territories, is ultimately undermining project success.”

The research also discovered that 80 percent of respondents believed that their finance department could not quantify the amount of VAT at risk if the company was found to be non-compliant.

“One of the problems with any paper-based process is that it is often hard to track the costs and inefficiencies involved – the inefficient nature of the manual process itself prevents easy quantification of the potential savings,” continued Johnson. “If just from a commercial and competitive perspective, companies must move away from these highly inefficient processes. The costs and issues associated with paper-based invoicing, coupled with the associated lack of visibility into a company’s cash management do impact the bottom line, a risk that should be avoided particularly at a time when cost saving and effective resource utilization are so important.”

Sterling Commerce recently launched the first solution to market that enables multi-national organizations to automate electronic invoicing processes worldwide, while maintaining conformity with the tax regulations mandated by each of the particular regions. Sterling e-Invoice Gateway eliminates the need to support separate solutions for each geography; reduces risk and exposure by enabling compliance with ever-changing electronic invoicing tax regulations; and improves operational efficiencies and contains costs by automating both buyer and seller electronic invoice processes in accordance with country-specific tax regulations.

Sterling Commerce is exhibiting Sterling e-Invoice Gateway and its broad portfolio of Financial Services solutions at stand C617, hall C at SIBOS 2008, from Sept. 15-19, in Vienna. To find out more about Sterling Commerce activities, visit

About Sterling Commerce
Sterling Commerce, an AT&T Inc (NYSE:T) company, helps customers thrive in a global economy by connecting their business communities, processes, people, and technology.  More than 30,000 customers worldwide – including 82 percent of the Fortune 500 – use Sterling Commerce solutions for business process integration, multi-channel selling, and supply chain fulfillment to improve profitability inside and outside their company walls.  Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Sterling Commerce has offices in 19 countries and most major cities around the world. More information on the company can be found at

Published by: Sterling Commerce


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.

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.

That’s another day!

Published by: The FinanSer

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