Taiwan: 2 billion e-bills in 2012, 4 billion in 2013 [UPDATE]

December 23, 2011  |  Adoption, Asia, Electronic Invoicing, Payment

President Chain Store Corp, which operates Taiwan’s largest chain of convenience stores, recently launched a full-scale and across-the-board issuance of electronic invoices at almost all its 4700 stores in Taiwan. The massive change started begin December.

Update: 100 millionth e-invoice in <1 year

[Update 03/01/2012] The Ministry of Finance announced that the 100 millionth electronic invoice was already issued by a convenience store. The consumer holding the e-invoice will be given an iPad 2.

According to the Financial Data Center (FDC), the MOF began encouraging stores to issue environmentally friendly e-invoices last year, and, to draw the public’s attention to the green policy, the ministry decided to give away an iPad 2 to the lucky holder of the 100 millionth e-invoice.

Convenience E-invoicing in Taiwan

We received some background information on the decision of this major retailer:

  • The recent move is in line with the Taiwanese government effort to replace paper invoices with e-invoices.
  • The move by Chain Store Corp came after the Ministry of Finance (MOF) wound up its one-year trial issuance of e-invoices, inspiring convenience stores to follow suit.
  • Up to 99% of the firm’s stores (including 7-Elevens) kicked off with issuing e-invoices to consumers
  • All consumers get e-invoices instead of traditional print invoices
  • Customers that pay with icash cards or EasyCards get their transactions recorded on the cards.

The E-invoicing band wagon

Other convenience chain stores are also ready to jump on the e-invoice bandwagon:

  • Over 800 OK convenience stores will begin issuing e-invoices on Dec. 26,
  • Family Mart system is scheduled to start in early 2012
  • Hi-Life chain stores will launch e-invoices in the second quarter of 2012.

4 Billion invoices in 2013

Su Chun-jung, the director of the Financial Data Center (that is resided under the Ministry of Finance) stated that:

  • around 100 million e-invoices will be issued in Taiwan by the end of 2011
  • that figure will expand to 2 billion (!!!) by the end of 2012
  • 4 billion e-invoices will be issued in 2013.
  • in 2013 50% of all invoices in Taiwan are e-invoices. Respect.

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  1. Stakeholders on our world use different languages and terms.
    Reading this article can give the impression, that relative small Taiwan (Population of 23 million) will skyrocket the e-invoice volume and achieve after 2 years the same volume as all European enterprises and consumers after one decade of market development.
    In my opinion, we should distinguish between the classical European usage of the term “invoice” and the “Uniform Invoices” as tax receipts are called in Taiwan. These tax receipts are issued at physical stores for any clients purchasing any goods. Tax authorities (not only in Taiwan, but also in Latin America) are keen to get copies of these receipts to avoid tax evasion by the stores. The content on these receipts is of course relatively similiar to invoices, but in my view, it is misleading to use the same term “e-invoice” for this.

  2. Hello Bruno Koch,

    Thank you for your comment.

    We like to make a distinction between on the one hand the backgrounds behind the move and on the other hand the effects of the move.

    Regardless of its possible background (reducing paper, fiscal compliance, preventing tax evasion), the actual effects of the move are that the paper bills are replaced with e-bills. So, going from paper fibres to bits and bytes is e-invoicing/e-billing. Right?

    From a cultural and historical perspective Taiwan is very capable in realising such major transitions. But not only Taiwan, but also several other Asian countries. In fact the Latin American countries also showed how fast things can go.

    Remarkably, the European transpose their perception e-invoicing/e-billing/ap automation on other continents. While these continents show far greater progress than Europe does, when they put their minds to it.

    Perhaps it would be good to change the ‘teacher’ and ‘student’ roles sometimes?

  3. I’m always keen to learn and don’t want to teach anyone, but I do find the Editor’s argument a bit vague.

    Bruno makes a valid point here, pointing out the difference of process in Taiwan compared to European e-invoicing landscape. Editor’s argument seems to be that if something transits from paper to bits and bytes, that’s e-invoicing / e-billing. My question: which of the two is it and do we all even understand these terms alike?

    To me, e-invoicing is something that is machine readable, process indipendent, cross-platform and cross-industry.

    If Taiwan is implementing a process where all sales receipts are obtainable in an electronic form to a governmental process (as Bruno explained, I don’t know about this) it is certainly an “e”-process, but not necessarily an “invoice”-process. The distinction seems quite clear: these messages can only be processed by the Taiwanese government for taxation purposes. This message can not be sent to me (to another country) nor can I send one abroad.

    I’m more than happy to discuss about the possibilities of application integration and open interfaces on governmental processes. I even have some great examples. But to call that e-invoicing seems a bit misleading.

  4. @Vesa Kotilainen,

    Thank you for your comment. We changed the phrase “e-invoices’ into “e-bills”.

    When it comes to the definition of “e-invoicing”, well that seems to be different between geographical regions, between key actors and even within key actors.

    With regard to the latter. In the comments you’ll find several comments from BSP’s with different explanations of with they believe e-invoicing is.

  5. @Editor
    Of course there are several terms. In local language, they are more or less clear and distinguish different things.
    Often, various stakeholders use the same terms in different ways.
    After translating terms form local language to english, the result can be misleading. Sometimes, a correct translation to english is almost impossible.
    If I consider the main focus of usage, I would definitely not translate the Taiwanese “Uniform Invoices” to “e-Bill”, but much more to “e-Receipts”. In Latin America, we have the “e-Boletas” with the same meaning.
    “e-Receipts” could describe the message, generated in the till (not AR application) and sent afterwards to the tax authorities. In Chile, “e-boletas” can also be sent in electornic form to the client, if he gives his VAT/user number to the shop/restaurant etc.

  6. Joining in from Estonia. I rather agree that going from paper to bits IS NOT always “e-invoicing”. The news seem to be about e-receipts and not e-invoices. Google gives an early article on the topic from year 2000: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/40891/E_receipts_next_on_retail_front An update from 2011: http://retailtechnologytrends.com/2011/09/13/2011-34-ereceipt-retailers-in-north-america/. It is also useful to compare the definitions of invoice and receipt in wikipedia to see the difference.