Dramatic increase in electronic invoicing offers benefits for consumers and financial departments
April 16, 2014
Consumers are paying more predictably, and corporate cash flows are accelerating. Finland is the world’s most advanced country in business-to-business electronic invoicing. The digital transformation has now reached consumer invoicing: in 2013, Finnish consumers received half of their invoices electronically. According to a study, this share will increase to two-thirds by 2020. Payments will become more predictable, and financial managers will be pleased to see faster and more stable cash flows.
“Electronic invoices are shaping the development of the national economy and consumers’ everyday lives,” says Jari Annala, Vice President, Automation Solutions, OpusCapita.
Electronic invoices have no postage or printing costs, and companies will achieve even more significant savings by automating their financial processes. When the cost of invoicing decreases, invoices can be sent at shorter intervals. In addition, payment times will become shorter, as companies no longer need to account for the delay caused by mail delivery.
What is more, electronic invoices will not be left on the fridge door and forgotten, nor will they pile up for later.
“Consumers will become more punctual. I would even go as far as to say that they are highly likely to pay electronic invoices on the due date. In addition, the payments will be accurate, as consumers no longer need to enter the data themselves. Instead, they can simply approve the invoice for payment. This means that companies will have a considerably smaller number of erroneous or defective payments to deal with.”
Overall, money will flow more rapidly. In a tough economy, companies will greatly benefit from accelerated cash flows.
“The capital tied to invoices will become available sooner than before, and companies will be able to predict their cash flows and need for equity capital more accurately.”
Electronic invoices will lead consumers to other online services
When paying an electronic invoice, the consumer is only a click away from the online services of the company.
“Companies have invested significantly in electronic portal services and want to encourage consumers to use them. Electronic invoices are becoming a means of communication that enables businesses to include links to their other services,” Annala explains.
Through electronic services, consumers can report a change of address, submit an enquiry about an invoice, correct an error in an invoice or effortlessly extend the payment time, to name just a few examples. According to Annala, consumers often perceive these modern service channels as improved customer service.
No more mistrust
Direct debiting was abandoned in Finland in 2013. This boosted the breakthrough of electronic invoicing.
“The hyper-growth continues. Consumers have become familiar with electronic invoices and are now requesting them beyond the companies that used direct debiting,” says Annala.
Consequently, the number of electronic invoices transmitted by OpusCapita nearly tripled last year.
Studies confirm that consumers’ attitudes towards electronic invoices have changed. The invoices are now perceived as reliable and easy to use.
Even though consumers have become more active, companies should continue to promote the transition. The greatest benefits will be achieved after most consumers have adopted the new operating models. Two parallel systems – paper and electronic invoices – cause unnecessary costs.
“Among our customers, those who have already collaborated with us to implement the transition have also gained considerable benefits compared with their competitors who are still in the investment phase,” says Annala.
The research results related to electronic invoicing are from a study commissioned by the Itella Group:
>> Electronic Invoicing in Finland in 2013 (in Finnish)