Effortless electronic exchange is the key

Creating functioning financial supply chains and seamless collaboration between buyers and suppliers requires effortless exchange of electronic trade documents. Thus the common, cross-border interoperability of e-invoicing and e-procurement networks is the key objective for the stakeholders.

In 2016, EESPA and OpenPEPPOL joined forces to accelerate the adoption of e-invoicing in Europe. The two associations agreed, among other things, to work together to ensure further development of the PEPPOL network. As the operator of one of the leading e-invoicing networks in the world, OpusCapita is actively involved in developing the market.

Since PEPPOL might be reaching tipping point as the standard in Pan-European e-invoicing and e-procurement, Journal had a brief Q&A with experts in the area.

OCJ 2 2016 Ahti Allikas 1382

Ahti Allikas
Solution Owner of e-invoice networks, OpusCapita
Member of EESPA Executive Committee,
Lead of Invoice Response Project in OpenPEPPOL

Why should corporations look into PEPPOL now, if they have not already?

PEPPOL is an open platform, which is standardized at all three necessary levels for effortless electronic exchange: the addressing and routing of the messages, document specifications, and the transfer infrastructure of the network. Besides e-invoices, PEPPOL covers other elements of the procurement process, such as e-catalogues, e-orders and e-signatures.

As corporations’ demand to exchange electronic business documents with all of their trading partners, large or small, increases with the pursuit of automated supply chains and purchase-to-pay processes, these types of easy-to-access networks become pivotal. Many-to-many platforms are especially important for activating and onboarding suppliers.

What is the key benefit of PEPPOL-compliant messaging?

By connecting with one of the PEPPOL-compliant service providers, such as OpusCapita, you reach all of the other providers in the network, at the moment over 130 of them, and their customer organizations in any country.

PEPPOL specifications have been developed since 2008, so the technology is mature. Although it was launched to alleviate B2G trade, its functionalities are continuously being further developed to address the needs of modern B2B trade as well.

OCJ 2 2016 Andre Hoddevik 1381

André Hoddevik
Secretary General, OpenPEPPOL

How will PEPPOL advance in the coming years?

OpenPEPPOL currently has more than 170 member organizations from 17 European countries, Canada and the USA. I think this number will be doubled within the next few years, and there are two main drivers of this. First, the introduction of mandatory e-invoicing in public procurement through directive 2014/55/EU, and, second, the mandatory use of electronic communication in certain steps of the public procurement process through directive 2014/24/EU. Implementation of these directives is supported technically and financially through the Connecting Europe Facility Digital, and use of PEPPOL Business Interoperability Specifications (BIS) and eDelivery network plays an important role in these enabling actions.

What is PEPPOL’s importance in B2B commerce?

PEPPOL BIS and eDelivery are already being used in the B2B sector. For instance, in Norway the vast majority of the more than 50 000 registered recipients of PEPPOL BIS invoices are private sector entities, and we see that major industry players are adopting PEPPOL as well. Through the recently-announced cooperation between EESPA and OpenPEPPOL, we aim to strengthen further the use of PEPPOL in B2B e-invoicing in Europe.

Will PEPPOL have a role in cross-border electronic invoicing and e-procurement outside Europe?

PEPPOL interoperability specifications are based on ISO standards, and the PEPPOL network is also based on international standards from organizations such as OASIS. As such they have global potential.

So far we have mainly seen use of PEPPOL outside Europe by global companies with customers in Europe, but this is about to change. For instance, Australia’s e-invoice program acknowledges the PEPPOL-based European e-invoicing approach as an important source for knowledge and inspiration when establishing their national e-invoicing framework. OpenPEPPOL will continue cooperation with government initiatives to encourage use of global standards.

The e-invoicing software and service providers will play an important role by adopting these standards, and they have huge market potential when offering solutions based on global standards to private and public sector organizations that need proven and affordable solutions enabling seamless cross-border trade.

PEPPOL stands for Pan-European Public Procurement Online. It was originally a project by the European Commission aimed to simplify e-procurement and enable European suppliers to exchange electronic business documents with any European public-sector buyer. The OpenPEPPOL association is now responsible for maintaining and developing the specifications and network infrastructure created in the project.

EESPA is the European E-invoicing Service Providers Association, a community representing over 60 European leading e-invoicing organizations. The association promotes the creation of interoperable ecosystems, policies and standards, and the widespread adoption of electronic invoicing for the benefit of economic efficiency and growth.

Published in OpusCapita Journal 2/2016. Read the whole magazine here

READ MORE of Ahti Allikas’s views in his blog: PEPPOL will change the game in e-invoicing.