“Revolution” and “Evolution” are two words that are becoming more commonly used to describe the way Australian consumers and businesses are paying and invoicing for goods and services.
Either way, the manifestations of change are clear in Australian payments. The use of cash and cheques are on the wane, and – as individuals and as businesses – Australians are increasingly paying online through a growing variety of channels.
A Westpac study has concluded that by 2017, Australian consumers will bank online almost entirely using smart phones and tablets as oppossed to computers.
In this increasingly paperless world, old fashioned paper invoices are rapidly being consigned to history. Businesses are finding value, convenience and cost savings through the presentation of electronic invoices, part of an enterprise finance system which delivers secure record keeping, on-call visibility and more efficient account reconciliation.
The trend was recognised by Gartner analyst Paolo Malinverno in 2014, in his whitepaper “E-Invoicing Gains Traction Worldwide.”
Malinverno recognised that although the savings produced by electronic invoicing “had been proven”, challenges remained. He urged companies to start evaluating electronic invoicing now, “regardless of your company’s vertical industry, size or financial shape.”
For many businesses, electronic businesses goes beyond simple convenience and into the realm of improved performance management.
The ability to automate invoicing and integrate with other business systems delivers business efficiencies and enhanced revenue generating opportunities.
This applies not only to the enterprise generating the electronic invoice, but to all of that enterprises’ suppliers and customers through its supply chain, improving and deepening relationships.
For buyers, the benefits are in reduced costs, increased accuracy and a lower risk of fraud. For suppliers, faster payments mean reduce costs and greater productivity.
As businesses find value in electronic invoicing, the trend is driving change among payments providers, where the push is towards seamless real-time processing and increased integration with the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems of customers.
But although Australian consumers have been quick to embrace the world of electronic payments, momentum for electronic invoicing has developed at a slower pace, with adoption starting among larger businesses and government agencies.
Of the current 500 billion invoices being transmitted currently worldwide, it is estimated that under 10 percent are electronic invoices. This number is estimated to grow by about 20 percent per year in the next few years.
The growing uptake in mobile solutions for business will also be a driver for electronic invoicing.
Already, leading Australian enterprises are equipping staff in the field with smartphones and devices which generate and manage the invoicing process, eliminating the need for paper.
Vehicle glass repair and replacement company O’Brien has 500 plus field technicians, all of them historically using paper based order and invoicing systems.
In mid-2014, O’Brien equipped its workers in the field with smartphones equipped with a bespoke app which managed the whole customer process from quoting through to invoicing.
O’Brien is leveraging smartphone technology not only to improve the customer experience, but to drive productivity and cost savings.
In this formula for improved efficiency, electronic invoicing is a key component, not just for finance and administration, but also organisational performance.
This article represents the views and opions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BPAY.
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