eInvoicing is in its early days. So was email not so long ago.
This is going to date some of us, but it wasn’t all that long ago that faxing replaced letters. Then email arrived in the early ‘80s. It was a far superior technology and before long it had brushed aside the fax machine.
It’s the same with invoice processing. If you remember the heyday of the fax you’ll probably remember teams of accounts payable clerks punching in invoice data as it was received. That model was replaced by something much better: scanning solutions combined with automated workflows.
That too is about to be replaced by a better technology: eInvoicing.
While eInvoicing is now commonplace in many European countries, it is still early days in Australia and New Zealand. There were only 21 registered access points across both countries in April this year, and in New Zealand only 600 eInvoices were transferred between businesses. It’s reminiscent of the early ‘80s when you’d ask customers if they had an email address so you could send them a PDF invoice. Pretty soon we’ll be asking them “What’s your NZ Business Number and are you connected for eInvoicing?”
The ecosystem supporting eInvoicing is developing quickly. Right now only a few accounting providers can actually send and receive Peppol-compliant eInvoices, but companies such as Streamline Business are on to it. Our-invoicing middleware contains coding and approval workflows and a simple method of uploading and downloading invoice data in a way that your accounting system can digest.
It’s early days for eInvoicing, for sure. Just like email once was, however, it’s the better solution that’s on the verge of going mainstream.