What we (collectively) did right when launching e-invoicing and recommend:
1. Banks joined collectively with invoice portals and file transfer > payment automation was improved, financing aspects added and non-bank service providers were much invigorated. Only banks have the capability and business case to sign up the SME-sector quickly and cost-efficiently (ready tools from e-banking, payments and file transfers) – bringing in economy of scope, scale, trust, reuse and repetition.
Recommendation: involve key banks from the outset – and stress responsibility for society at large and fact that investment needs for banks are very small – especially if they deploy cloud services
2. The Finvoice standard was created (regularly updated by the banking community – now version 1.3) and supported by over 50 suppliers of invoicing software and all nonbank service providers
Recommendation: involve financial administration software and service providers and choose ISO20022 as base
3. The bank service was designed to serve both b2b and b2c and also printed paper invoices for non-e-receivers. B2c turned out to be an important eye-opener for SME-employees as most of them use e-banking and the “just-approve” convenience (pro filling in lengthy reference numbers and other details) became apparent.
Recommendation: move towards same solution for SMEs sending invoices to other enterprises and consumers
4. Networking between bank and non-bank networks evolved
Recommendation: Important to get joint network with rule-book established early on.
5. A number of municipalities and enterprises issued deadlines for paper and e-mail invoices early on and the State Treasury gradually increased firmness of deadlines for accepting unstructured invoices to soon join UPM Kymmene (amongst top3 paper manufacturer globally) returning paper and e-mail invoices (no scanning).
6. Direct debit was integrated - eliminating the need for invoice senders to register receivers for paper, e-invoice and direct debit and instead send the entire invoice file to chosen service provider who prints for non-e receivers and sends the rest to the e-invoice address of the receiver who decides which invoices and how big ones can be paid automatically at due date. This model both saves very much costs at the invoice sender end as there is no need to interfere and keep repositories and makes it more convenient for the payer as all is done in one place – the familiar e-bank.
Recommendation: integrate direct debit
7. Mobile notifications – including click “a” for payment approval (no PIN needed) for due date and “n” for immediate (often real time) time payment
8. The partly publicly funded Real Time Economy program was started in 2006 (with resources and input from enterprises, banks, the public sector, the accounting profession and invoice operators)
9. Active involvement on EU level (with the Commission and the European Central Bank) and global level – leading to new VAT directive and global standards - ISO20022 standardization for (i) payment reference, (ii) credit payment (used in SEPA), (iii) account statements, (iv) Bank Payment Obligation and (v) the invoice message standard
10. Clear cost-cutting potential message from State Treasury: cost for handling paper or e-mail invoice > 30€, cost for e-invoice 10€ and cost for automated e-invoice 1€. Total savings estimate for state sector 150m€/annum, municipal sector 150m€/annum and for enterprises 2,8bn€ (Federation for Finnish Industry)
What we would do differently will be published later.