E-invoicing (“electronic invoicing”) is a form of invoicing used between suppliers and customers. Even though it is often the customer who requests suppliers to send invoices in electronic format, both customer and supplier stand to benefit from electronic invoicing.
There are several clear benefits of handling invoicing electronically:
Electronic invoices are usually delivered to the recipient just a few seconds after they are sent, in contrast to paper invoices, which can take several days to arrive. This makes it possible to reduce the waiting time for payment.
Good e-invoicing solutions encrypt all information. This means that you can abide by all compliance regulations, including GDPR.
You can typically save 80–100% of the postage costs in relation to paper invoices. Electronic invoicing also supports automated processes designed to save a great many person hours.
There are all kinds of different standards for electronic invoicing, and preferences change from one company to the next. However, if you are a supplier to the public sector in an EU Member State, there is one predominant standard: PEPPOL, which is an official EU standard.
The fact that PEPPOL is an official e-invoicing standard within the EU means that all public authorities in the EU must be able to receive e-invoices that comply with the PEPPOL standard. In other words: If you can send electronic invoices according to the PEPPOL standard, you can send invoices to state and municipal authorities, as well as to other public sector firms throughout the EU.
If you are already a supplier to the public sector, you may have received a direct request to send your invoices in electronic format. This is a request you can always accommodate when you use the PEPPOL standard. It also puts you a good way ahead of your competitors who may still not have started using PEPPOL.
Find out more about invoicing the public sector.
Data security is attracting more and more attention all over the world. This places stringent requirements on how you process data about the companies you interact with.
Invoices often feature business-critical information, which must be protected to prevent it from falling into unauthorised hands. It is therefore essential to choose a secure network for exchanging e-invoices.
The PEPPOL network has been developed with full focus on security. All the information you exchange on a PEPPOL invoice is encrypted to protect it from the risk of abuse.
When you send your electronic invoices via the PEPPOL standard, you can be sure of living up to the strictest compliance requirements regarding e-invoicing in the EU.
When business operators exchange electronic invoices, there are often many different parties involved in the process. There is a sender and a recipient, of course, but there may also be several intermediaries involved – companies that take care of actually transporting the invoice from sender to recipient.
These intermediaries also perform other functions that we will not be examining in detail here. The relevant issue is that these intermediaries typically charge fees for their transport services. This is a bit like the costly roaming charges you sometimes have to pay when making calls or exchanging data via your smartphone in places where your usual telecoms network does not provide coverage and you need to use other networks instead.
The PEPPOL network runs on a different principle. Here, sender and recipient pay only the price they have agreed with their respective network provider (also called a “PEPPOL Access Point”). This means that there will be no extra roaming fees between network providers, and that no charges of this kind will ever be passed on to you.
As mentioned previously, all kinds of e-invoicing standards are currently in use. It may seem strange that a single standard has not been developed for everyone to use, as that would obviously make it much easier for companies to embrace e-invoicing.
However, there is evidence to suggest that PEPPOL may well be the international standard everyone has been waiting for. Even though it “only” began life as an EU standard, it has already spread far beyond EU borders. For example, companies in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States are already a part of the network – and it is likely they will soon be joined by many more.
This means you could potentially have the entire world as your market when you use the PEPPOL standard. It makes no difference whether you currently only need to send an occasional PEPPOL invoice to a customer in your immediate area. Whether you choose to send invoices locally or globally is entirely up to you.