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

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