Wednesday, September 17, 2008


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.

No comments: