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SEPA: why is e-invoicing missed out?

More on my euro week
and it’s funny how the world goes around, what goes up must come down,
tomorrow is another day, and e-invoicing is not part of SEPA. 

The
European Payments Council (EPC), which comprises the bank policymakers
of SEPA, has explicitly said so: e-invoicing is not part of SEPA. 

I
asked the question direct and the answer came back, "let’s leave it the
European Commission as they now have the European e-invoicing (EEI)
Taskforce and Framework working party to manage this".

What is this working party?

It’s
being formed as we speak.  The EEI working group will comprise 40
members across banks, corporates, governments and other policymakers to
work out how to implement a stakeholder network and associated
standards to enable commercial transactions.   In other words, a
multi-stakeholder network, similar to SWIFT, for the buying and selling
of goods through electronic documentation that is standardised.  This
is an organisation that may amalgamate SWIFT, Identrust and other
services to create a truly integrated platform for supply chain
management.  This therefore may be for more than just invoices, and
could include purchase orders, letters of credit, and more. 

The EEI Taskforce is being announced in early 2008, and has to provide a proposal for an EEI Framework before the end of 2009.

Whoopey-doo. 

So why does the EPC rule this out of SEPA?

Given
the fact that the European Association of Corporate Treasurers (EACT)
think that the efficiencies of e-invoicing services will save €243
billion per year in costs for businesses across Europe, why is the EPC
not focused upon this?

Given that this is the biggest business
benefit for EU businesses, rather than a big cost like SEPA Direct
Debits and Credit Transfers, why isn’t the EPC leading this?

Pardon?

What?

Oh
yes, this is the bit where banks can gain competitive differentiation
with their clients.  I’m sorry. I forgot.  Competition in client
servicing is a critical factor in supply chains and corporate
servicing, unlike the commodity product factories for direct debits and
credits.

I guess I better not euro-nate on this then?

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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