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Up and down - from the e-invoice

Just back from the Exchange conference I keep pondering how we can get a shared view of how to automate administrative processes. Today - especially in the US - it still is large enterprise driven procurement that drives e-invoicing. How can this evolve into a good solution for SMEs = send to all from your own e-bank or other solution instead of having to use a different tool with each customer? How can we get into an competition-driving 4-corner model - and avoid trapping the small enterprises?

The easy answer is to call in the regulators. But before that we should give service providers, the accounting industry, standardisation organisations and SME-organisations the chance to work it out.

A good starting point there would be to take the invoice as the starting point - without it you cannot get paid or pay, do any accounting, report tax, update cash flow estimates, be auditied etc. And all this automatically once you have moved to e-invoices and taken the rather easy next steps needed to create the next ecosystem layers.

So when debating whether e-invoicing is basically only a part of large-buyer specific procurement processes and not a matter for SMEs to have as a generic tool we should remember that SMEs are the largest part of the economy - in Europe 67% of the total turnover and a rapidly growing part of employment from 65%. As the SME-sector is so large and has the largest potential (still largely un-automated - accountants use 80%!! of their time to enter data that should be automated)  it is more than obvious that all (also large enterprises) stand to gain from us focusing on cutting the cost of the administrative burden and taking financial management into real time for the small enterprises.

So moving down from the e-invoice into automated payments, automated accounting, automated VAT-reporting, automated cash flow estimates, automated financing and real time finance management should be the focus area - from the Good-for-Society-at-Large angle.

Moving up from the e-invoice to procurements should of course not be forgotten (even if the SME-sector have very small needs here). But for large enterprises to receive e-invoices in generally accepted formats from all their existing and new suppliers with easy to use and very cost-efficient tools must (already now - or in a near future) be a much better solution than forcing them into own unique portals or anticompetitive 3-corner models.

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Comments: (1)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 24 July, 2016, 13:521 like 1 like

Good post Bo,

I blogged on the same topic this week before coming across your article. It's great to see consciousness of this important subject building in the market!

Bo Harald

Bo Harald

Chairman/Founding member, board member

Transmeri, Demos, Real Time Economy Program,MyData

Member since

04 Nov 2008


Helsinki Region

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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Electronic invoicing

A discussion and guidance on the path to full scale adoption of electronic invoicing by corporates, goverments, SME's and consumers, creating savings up to € 60 billion in 2020. With a focus on: trends, business models, processes, technology, and legal issues.

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