The lack of e-invoicing standards in the United States is a big reason that processing invoices is such an arduous affair. Most accounts payable (AP) departments manually handle most of the invoices they receive from suppliers -- invoice data entry, paper shuffling, and filing.
There is no definition of what constitutes an e-invoice and more than 30 different “standard” e-invoicing formats currently are used in the United States. This is what makes AP processing such a time-intensive and labor-intensive function.
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IPS is working with the Business Payments Coalition to do something about this. The coalition is a volunteer group of organizations and individuals working together to promote greater adoption of electronic business-to-business (B2B) payments and remittance data. The coalition’s overarching goal is to make B2B payments more efficient across the end-to-end process, to achieve straight-through-processing across both the procure-to-pay and order-to-cash cycles.
Against this backdrop, the coalition is working on a framework for U.S. e-invoicing interoperability.
E-invoicing continues to grow worldwide, led by countries in Scandinavia, Latin America and South America. Adoption of e-invoicing in the United States is only average compared to other countries.
A lack of interoperability standards is a key reason that the United States lags other countries in e-invoicing adoption. Multiple closed e-invoicing networks operate in the United States.
Interoperability expands the reach of e-invoicing in the United States by enabling a buyer’s network to receive invoices from suppliers who are part of an interoperable partner’s network.
The European Union, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand and other geographic regions across the globe already have implemented a combination of legal, technical and process requirements for e-invoicing. Cost savings and fraud prevention are the primary drivers of these requirements.
E-invoicing interoperability will provide features that will appeal to all parties in the trade and commerce ecosystem:
- Suppliers can send invoices through a single connection. As a result, suppliers do not have to maintain multiple accounts, formats or connections.
- The supplier’s e-invoicing network benefits from increased volume and the ability to expand into new vertical markets and geographies.
- The buyer’s e-invoicing network benefits from increased volume received through the network and the ability to increase buyer adoption and offer more value-added services.
- Buyers benefit from increased supplier adoption of e-invoicing.
E-invoicing interoperability will enable the accounts payable departments in multinational companies to reduce invoice processing costs, improve accuracy, accelerate the delivery of information to downstream systems and increase transparency.
It is for these reasons that IPS was a founding member of the coalition and providing leadership with this initiative.