Get Ahead of the Game and Be Ready for e-Invoicing in 2019
e-invoicing Trends, Digitalization, E-invoicing
We started the year 2018 by saying that a well-earned spotlight will fall on e-invoicing. During the last 12 months, that has happened, for sure. In this blog, I will discuss the changes ahead in e-invoicing in 2019 and share with you some concrete steps to take to get ready.
Especially in Europe, the market has been busy preparing to take steps forward in the digital transformation of business-to-government (B2G) and business-to-business (B2B) invoicing. But also the U.S. market has woken up. The Business Payment Coalition in the Federal Reserve Bank has actively moved forward with an activity to create a national e-invoicing standard for the United States.
Are you ready to transition to e-invoicing? That is a question that organizations should focus on answering now as the year is about to change. There has been a lot of talk around e-invoicing this year, and in 2019, many of those topics will become a reality. It is time to start figuring out future-proof solutions for invoice sending and receiving and put e-invoicing on the agenda in your organization if you haven’t done that already.
An e-invoicing revolution in Europe
A major driver for e-invoicing in 2019 is the public sector regulations that will come into effect with the new European standard on e-invoicing. In a couple of months’ time, all European governments will need to be able to receive invoices in electronic format, if they are sent according to the European Norm (2014/55/EU). The focus is on increasing process efficiency and decreasing costs.
For some markets, such as Finland, Norway, and Denmark, but also Spain and Italy, it is nothing new for the companies doing business with the public sector. E-invoices have been required in the B2G trade for some time now - either with a legal mandate or a strong recommendation. For others, it means first a new possibility and soon, I’m sure, an increasing pressure to adopt electronic invoices.
In addition, PEPPOL as pan-European E-invoicing Network has already implemented support for the European Norm. It means that in PEPPOL network, you can exchange fully EN-compliant e-invoices already today.
The new year will bring us also an e-invoicing revolution in Europe. Italy, being the third largest national economy in the eurozone and approximately eighth largest in the world, will fundamentally change the game. E-invoices will be mandatory not only for B2G but also for B2B transactions. The country is introducing in 2019 the so-called clearance model, which is already dominant for instance in Latin America. All invoices will be reported and validated by the tax authorities before or during the exchange process. It is an effort to stop the VAT (value-added tax) leakage, and currently, for example, Spain, Greece, Portugal, and France are considering similar solutions.
Concrete steps to take toward e-invoicing in 2019
The different initiatives around e-invoicing are a sign that it is not a question of “if” but “when” electronic invoicing becomes an inescapable part of B2G and B2B trade. To me, the market trends – the pursuit for process efficiency and the need to gain a tighter control on VAT – are clear indications of mandatory e-invoicing coming to the whole of Europe. It is a fair assumption to make that after the public sector has built up their processes for receiving e-invoices they will also want to make the most out of the investment by increasing the share of electronic invoices in their processes.
With all of this happening in your operating environment, you might ask: “What should I do next? Where should I start when preparing for e-invoicing in 2019?” Here are some concrete first steps to take to get ready.
- Take a close look at the countries you are active in and find out the current and new regulations for e-invoicing. Ask your service provider for the market news. Keep up-to-date on different requirements in different markets: for example, is e-invoicing becoming mandatory in the B2G trade or are the tax authorities demanding real-time reporting and validation for all invoices even in B2B trade.
- Figure out if the data on your invoices is compliant with the different local requirements and take action to update it if needed. You should also take notice if there are special requirements for the ways the e-invoices need to be exchanged. Check the compliance capability of your service provider and make sure they are ready to support you.
- Focus on interoperability and look for ways to ensure broad compliance in your operating environment. Even after all the initiatives, there’ll be no single standard available worldwide, and business interoperability is the only key to success.
- Look for a centralized e-invoicing solution that will support sending and receiving all types of invoices through a single channel. Make sure that your solution can support you in compliant invoicing in all the markets you are in, with all the different formats and requirements for your current and future invoice processes.
- Choose yourself a partner with compliant services and a broad interoperable invoicing network. If you want to know more how OpusCapita can help you, take a look at our e-invoicing services.
I wish you all a happy end of the 2018 and a very efficient, fruitful and e-invoice-rich new year 2019!
Ahti Allikas has been active in the e-invoicing industry since the year 2000. He currently works as Head of Partners and Networks at OpusCapita, and is responsible for the development of the e-invoicing ecosystem. Ahti is a member of the executive committee of the European E-invoicing Service Providers Association (EESPA), member of management committee of the OpenPeppol Association (PEPPOL) and also member of E-Invoicing expert group in the European Multi-Stakeholder Forum on E-Invoicing (EMSFEI).
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