9 Belgian stakeholders promise to promote electronic invoicing adoption

belgie 150x150 9 Belgian stakeholders promise to promote electronic invoicing adoptionA study by the Belgian Agency for Administrative Simplification states that ten percent of all Belgian businesses uses electronic billing. Represents “only” 107 million e-bills out of the billion sent each year in Belgium. For the Federal budget minister Olivier Chastel, that number is still “far too small.”

To accelerate the adoption of ebilling, the minister brought nine interprofessional organizations together to let them promise to promote electronic billing to their members. Organisations included are Voka, the Neutral Independents Union (SNI) and Federation of Belgian Businesses (FEB). The objective is to increase the adoption of “e-billing” by 25% between now and the end of the legislative session.

How the Belgian stakeholders think of electronic invoicing

  • “It’s a goal that we almost certainly won’t achieve, but it’s an effective way of anticipating Europe’s ambitions. Europe wants 50% of bills sent digitally by 2020. We are insisting that accountants adopt e-billing as a priority,” SNI president Christine Mattheeuws explains.
  • Businesses’ hesitation is surprising, especially since the legal framework is already in place. “Since January 1, 2013, electronic bills have been equivalent to paper bills. That means that you can establish, send, receive and file electronic bills without fear,” says Erwin De Pue, ASA director general. The state is leading the way with Fedcom, the new application through which government accounting is computerized. “There is still an issue of differences between fiscal and social systems on archival requirements. It’s important to coordinate the rules,” Erwin De Pue explains.
  • Disparate ways of dealing with digital bills is also slowing their adoption. “There are at least 600 accounting systems in the world. In Belgium alone, there are between 10 and 15 companies that offer digital document management. Standard formats absolutely have to be established,” says Tom Pintens, sales manager with Smartdoc, a management service provider for businesses, specializing in digital documents.

Digital exchange is up to €10 cheaper than paper

Electronic billing seems to have many advantages, especially when it comes to price. “The average cost of sending a bill on paper is €13.80, shared between the sender and the recipient. The same operation only costs €4 when performed electronically,” Erwin De Pue explains. In Belgium if all bills were sent and paid electronically, administrative savings are estimated to be about €3.5 billion per year. Digitizing bills would also improve government efficiency, avoiding late fees and interest payments because accounts payable could be better managed and reducing archiving costs.

E-bills are also much faster. “There’s no need to wait sometimes for several days before the bill arrives at the right place. Sending and receiving electronic bills is almost instantaneous,” Tom Pintens explains.

“It’s all about achieving a centralized solution for all administrative and commercial documents. Those are often linked together,” he says.

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