As we heard from Stig Korsgaard at SIBOS there a rather unique happy confluence has been arrived at as:
1. The EC Expert Group on e-Invoicing turned to UNCEFACT to get a global e-invoicing standard to use in EU - the obvious targets being to speed up adoption, cost-efficient integration and automation and at the same time further the Single Market.
2. UNCEFACT TBG1 - representing trade and industry has delivered Cross Industry Invoice Version 2. It has been vetted also in the Expert Group and found very satisfactory. User guidelines should be ready by yearend.
3. UNCEFACT TBG5 representing the finance sector has worked in the payment automation towards ISO20022 and are natural supporters of CII in their own e-invoicing services and pan-EU schemes. This will mean that invoices keyed in by SMEs soon should be in this format from the start. SME software and accounting services should for obvious cost-saving and value production reasons follow suit.
4. The PEPPOL project (public sector procurement EU pilot) will accept CII invoices once in place (not only UBL).
CII as a network standard opens means a new dimension of the single European market. If you are an enterprise receiving invoices from 27 member states many of them will from the outset be in the right format and the rest will have been converted to CII as the network format. So you only need to decide for how long you want to convert it to your local format... or just pay it conveniently.
THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY ON A GRAND SCALE. I do not think that anybody has the nerve to wreck it - but much work is still needed to make clear that unstructured invoicing (destructed information..) has NO FUTURE.
We also heard at SIBOS from Ken Isaacson from NY Fed that the payment reference is being implemented and that feeding will be both to EDI and XML (ISO20022). Both needed for automation and global interoperability.