E-invoicing Falters due to Complexity

European businesses are struggling to fully exploit the benefits of electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) and are held back by a fear of complexity in addressing regulatory compliance requirements and legislation, according to a survey by Sterling Commerce. The research found that 46% of UK and 40% of European companies are yet to make a decision to implement an automated e-invoicing solution.

The survey of 400 IT managers in the UK, France, Germany and Italy found that the most pressing e-invoicing concern for businesses across Europe is compliance with national e-invoicing legislation. In addition, of the 72% of European and 77% of UK companies that are currently conducting business in more than six countries around the world, more than half admitted they were concerned about supporting disparate e-invoicing solutions across multiple geographies.

A quarter of responses also negatively highlighted the complexities associated with implementing multiple solutions to handle VAT compliance and audit requirements across the countries in which they operate. The research also discovered that 69% of respondents in the UK believed that their finance department could not quantify the amount of VAT at risk if the company was found to be non-compliant, which compared well to 80% of respondents across Europe.

Richard Spong, industry marketing manager, financial services, Sterling Commerce, told gtnews that the survey results showed two things: a low awareness of tax and risk with regards to tax, plus a lack of awareness of the benefits of e-invoicing.”There is much education needed,” said Spong.”Also the corporate that is thinking about e-invoicing realises that it will have to convert its community. Whoever moves first then has to get everyone else on board. If you are a Tesco or Wal-Mart, then it is easier but it can’t be just one corporate taking the initiative. Corporates do have appetite for e-invoicing but need an infrastructure or hub – a hosted service – in order to reap the benefits. If it costs the corporate thousands to implement and change its IT, and it takes years for ROI, then it is not attractive to them.” Spong believes that it must be the role of the banks to host e-invoicing services for their customers.


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