This announcement will hopefully be issued in many countries - the many reasons for doing it are so very obvious - for anyone wanting to look at the good-for-society-at-large aspects.
But even when the simple and cheap tools are there we will need resolute action to get to the tipping point. Change resistance is massive in this particular area and nobody should expect a breakthrough in less than two years. But if we start now we will have made good progress 2010 and by 2012 invoices will stay digital throughout the processes in many - if not most EU countries. This is a competition where everybody will win..
Resolute actions start by the service providers linking up to each others and providing so simple and cheap tools that no SME using internet can refuse to use. We have the right to expect that banks take their part of the responsibility - collectively to get the network effect.
Resolute action continues by invoice receivers using their natural right - e-invoice as a precondition for a trading relation. We have done so for our part and it has been even astonishing to hear from SME subsuppliers how easy it has been for them to migrate. Only a little pushing needed...
It so reminds me of e-banking in the 80s and early 90s - change resistance all over the place - now 1% of customers use branches for bill payment. But e-banking is not really ready before the whole practise of making a bill payment can be automated - approval with one click - also producing standing order (defacto direct debit). Massive savings - consumers always winning as this produces space for more price competition and service investments. I am sure we can see also consumer organizations to strongly support the efforts (they do know that customers pay every cent of costs).
So 2009 - the e-invoicing year - let us make it happen - on all fronts.