Nobody seems to be of the opinion that paper invoices have any future worth mentioning. In yesterday's SIBOS session here in Vienna there was an even surprisingly overwhelming yes-vote for banks to include e-invoicing into their services. So the mindset is there. And when organisations like SWIFT mobilize resources a high quality standardization work will start to produce also longer term benefits.
There is still a lot of players who keep stressing how difficult and exceedingly complex it all is. Is it? Yes - it can be if you look at it only from the procurement value chain angle and still today variancies in VAT-rules. No - if you look at it from the payment initiation angle and nationally. And this is what the EU work is focusing on - to give the SMEs in EU a 0-investment and 0-itskill tool for sending invoices with sufficient data fields to satisfy also large organisation receiving them. One tool that works in all directions - just like payments. And by accepting the authenticity and auditability that the payment industry is delivering the VAT-issues are solved in practise.
It is of course a habit of vendors to stress the complexity - it can be good for sales figures. But in this case I believe that is outrightly counterproductive for all as it confuses the market and scares away both enterprises and new services providers - thus the network effect.
E-invoicing does not have to be complex - we know it from our experience. So now it is up to the banking communities to sit down and agree on the very simple approach - form the network, include also non-banks, take a suitable version of ready financial invoice standards in use right away and include it just-like-payments in ordinary e-banking.
Keep it simple stupid - useful rule for all of us.