EXPP Summit 2011 in Barcelona: observations

October 3, 2011  |  Electronic Invoicing, Events, Publications

Invinet Sistemes 230x200The EXPP Summit took place in the hospitable city of Barcelona this year. Oriol Bausa watched and observed the EXPP Summit 2011 in his home country and reported the highlights: standards, Europe, Latin America, operators, PDF and much more.

This post is transposed from Oriol Bausà’s original post: http://blog.invinet.org/?p=951

Billentis’ Bruno Koch managed to build bridges between Europe and America this time, organizing a well-balanced EXPP conference with speakers of both sides of the Atlantic. We had the opportunity to know how they are implementing electronic invoicing on both continents. It was very interesting to see the results in accordance with the policies that have been established in recent years.

Latin America

In Latin America, the main catalyst for the deployment of the electronic invoice is the tax fraud control. The laws of some Latin American countries have made it possible for the electronic invoice to reach a market penetration level of up to 90% and growing in a fast pace during recent years.

Service providers in Latin America assist in thousands of monthly transactions and the growth is exponential. This has led some European providers attaching themselves to these markets by introducing their services and products.


In contrast, the main force behind the deployment of electronic billing in Europe is not the tax control, it is the competitiveness of enterprises. Becoming more agile and being able to improve their processes and efficiency have been the main challenges marking Europe for more than a decade.

With this policy, the adoption of electronic invoicing is up to the companies, which are free to choose whether a change of this type is beneficial or not. In Europe a lot of training is necessary to convince CEOs and CFOs that the change from paper processes to electronic processes is really worthwhile and offers them real benefits.

Equal treatment and digital signatures
Therefore, the principles of “equal-treatment” (equal treatment between paper invoices and electronic invoices) are still the guiding messages from the EC.Producing electronic invoices should be as simple as making paper invoices, and therefore technical barriers that could be considered an obstacle to its adoption in enterprises, should disappear.

It’s funny how some companies (especially auditing) confuse this effort to simplify the way of the adoption of electronic invoicing in Europe by eliminating the requirement for electronic signatures, with the imposition of complex controls and audits that should guarantee the traceability of business operations.

Once again the process is considered to be very complex and expensive when in fact it is not. Our interpretation of the new directive is that electronic invoices are to be audited as paper invoices. Point.

Advantages and disadvantages

Regarding the continental approaches, both have advantages and disadvantages. In Latin America electronic invoicing is getting a high level of penetration, but only for tax purposes. Much remains to be done in the field of process integration between companies. Define the processes, establish required information models (in Mexico encapsulated in Addenda) and homogenise them to provide the knowledge that every company can benefit from these electronic processes, is their next challenge.

In the European case, the lack of obligation only enables the adoption to grow by proven profit. This results in a slow take-off for electronic invoicing in the European B2B market, but in return, users are presented with some environments and tools that will greatly facilitate the digitization of its processes. Initiatives such as the CEN BII or PEPPOL are driving this change.

National standards versus interoperability
Oriol Bausà of Invinet made ??a presentation on national standards and the road to interoperability in Europe. The message of this paper is that we cannot pretend to have a single language for electronic invoicing in Europe.

There have been too many investments in national standards written in different languages, which means that in this situation, one central language does not meet the specific requirements of each country.

What we can do is build European interoperability as one builds a castle amongst all participants, taking into account the particularities of each individual. This is what the EC does with projects such as the CEN BII or pilot deployment as PEPPOL border. PEPPOL builds bridges between communities that have their own electronic billing systems, functions as the path towards interoperability in Europe and, why not, between Europe and Latin America.

Conclusions: PDF is at its peak
Bruno Koch’s conclusions at the close of the event emphasized the differences between these two approaches and pointed to trends in the market for electronic invoicing in Europe, both from the point of view of operators and from the point of view from formats to be used: In this aspect we are currently at the peak of maximum use of PDF as the format of electronic invoices tend to grow toward a greater adoption of PDF + XML invoices while invoices in EDI format are going to be stuck in the existing models.

Source: Invinet Sistemes

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