As the banking industry reflects on the aftermath of the recent financial crisis, the first day of this year’s EBADay in Luxemburg began with discussions on how banks need to regain trust of their customers by enhancing their payment services. Naturally,
the focus then shifted on to innovation in payments and e-invoicing in particular.
E-invoicing was always meant to be a saviour for SEPA, however, Peter Hazou from Unicredit made it clear that, just as it is the case with SEPA itself, the business case for moving to a big e-invoicing system does not yet exist. Similar to developments in
the migration to SEPA, standardisation is an issue. The transition to a European e-invoicing system is made more difficult by the fact that individual SEPA countries apply different domestic e-invoicing standards. To date, there is no uniform buying and procurement
process across Europe, resulting in different expectations from countries when it comes to implementing a standardised e-invoicing system.
Therefore, a standardised e-invoicing system as a compelling value-add for SEPA seems a long way off, currently suffering from similar issues as the Single Euro Payments Area. At this stage, e-invoicing is not going to bail SEPA out and it now looks like
it is making the migration process even more complex. Let’s hope the eagerly awaited announcement of a SEPA end-date will add some of the pressure needed to make relevant changes to not only e-invoicing standards but the entire SEPA migration process.