Taiwan slowly but surely says its goodbyes to paper transactions

May 18, 2012  |  Asia, Electronic Invoicing, Government

In 2000 the Taiwanese Ministry of Finance (MOF) launched its plan to promote electronic invoices (note that we use the term e-invoice and not e-bill, since the Taiwanese government prefers the former). From this point onward cyber businesses were allowed to exchange e-invoices amongst themselves  “We now have an e-invoice integration platform on the internet, where all transaction information is saved and can be retrieved,” said Su Chun-jung, director-general of the Financial Data Centre. On 1 July 2012, the MOF will launch a new measure designed to  help increase e-invoicing’s popularity.

A brief history on banishing Taiwanese paper invoices

Five years after the first steps in 2000 online businesses were permitted to reach individual buyers via e-invoice. In 2009, 27 popular supermarkets and retail stores started to replace their paper invoices with electronic ones; in 2010, they were joined by Carrefour Taiwan, Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store Co. Ltd. and consumer electronics seller Tsann Kuen Enterprise Co. Ltd. In January 2010 the MOF announced that the 100 millionth electronic invoice was already issued by a convenience store. Taiwan’s business sector has already filed more than 700 million e-invoices to date.

Your personal barcode

What about this new initiative? “Customers will be able to apply for a barcode from the MOF integration platform,” Su said. “By printing it out and attaching it to something they carry with them every day, they’ll be able to get e-invoices from more than 100 stores at the MOF data centre.” Among them are the 16 branches of RT-Mart International Ltd., a heavyweight wholesaler in Taiwan, he added. Users of this barcode will be able to receive confirmations of their purchases via e-mail, text message or an RSS feed.

Why go through all the trouble?

The MOF is very clear about why it is so supportive of electronic invoicing:

  • Less paper invoices means (for Taiwan at least) 80.000 trees that don’t have to be cut down and 3200 metric tons of carbon emissions that don’t end up in the atmosphere
  • The elimination of paper receipts is serving as a catalyst for electronic commerce. Taiwan’s e-commerce market value surged from NT$ 91.4 billion (US$ 3.09 billion) in 2005 to  NT$ 311.4 billion in 2009
  • Strengthening industry competitiveness. There are more than a dozen e-businesses offering fast delivery. That’s competitiveness right there for you

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