An effective and widely-used technology, e-invoicing has had a transformational impact on the banking and corporate communities, especially in terms of driving operational efficiency. It has and continues to be championed by The European Commission, which describes it as “an essential part of an efficient financial supply chain”.
Back in 2001 when the technology first came to the fore, there was a rush in the banking community to achieve standardised perfection overnight which, on reflection, only served to stall its development. In the end, its more widespread adoption has followed a process of more gradual migration from paper to electronic formats, from the early days of scanning through to today’s interoperable, multi-standard exchanges.
In this respect, there are a lot of parallels that can be drawn between e-invoicing and multi-bank trade finance and ePresentation, which also rely on the participation and collaboration of banks, corporates and the wider carrier community.
Here too, the technology needs to work in the real world – as well as the theoretical classroom. In most cases, successful adoption has been achieved by offering participants a gentle migration path to straight through processing (STP), rather than prescribing a ‘big bang’ leap to fully structured document data. Vision and clarity of purpose is critical but it must also be attainable.However, the good news is that, with more and more banks now realising the advantages of developing new services through multi-bank platforms and a growing number of corporate customers capitalising on the efficiency gains these trade finance systems deliver, the rate of adoption is likely to continue to accelerate more rapidly. Before long, this will undoubtedly result in multi-banking and trade finance technology joining e-invoicing in underpinning mainstream finance processes.