A move to e-invoicing could potentially transform the economy to the tune of $7-$10 billion a year according to the Federal Government.
e-invoicing means the automated exchange and processing of invoice-related documents between suppliers and buyers in a structured electronic or digital format. The ATO has estimated that only about 10-15% of invoices sent in Australia currently use e-invoicing, noting there are currently around 500-800 different ERP/accounting systems in use in Australia.
About one billion invoices are sent between Australian businesses each year, compared with about 130 million superannuation contribution messages sent using SuperStream.
Following the Budget, the Government commenced a joint private-public sector detailed cost and benefit study on widespread Government adoption. The ATO has estimated that there could be savings of $3 billion for government agencies alone.
Following on from this, the joint private-public sector council has approved a framework for implementation of national standards for the processing of e-invoices. The framework prescribes the use of universal business language (UBL) XML specification for messaging and eBMS 3.0 AS4 standard for transport. This is the Standard required by SuperStream for employers to make superannuation contributions using e-commerce.
What’s more, the implementation model currently proposes a “4 corner model” whereby invoices are sent by the seller to the receiver (buyer) via sending and receiving gateways. This structure and associated technical details are being looked at by a technical working group.
The successful implementation of SuperStream has been a driving factor in this area, and it is noteworthy that the ATO has been a key participant in this process as well. Gateways and other organisations with SuperStream expertise and capabilities are also involved in the process, and they will be able to leverage off their SuperStream learnings.
The small business community, as represented through the Council of Small Business Australia (CoSBA), were at best ambivalent to the introduction of SuperStream – although most small businesses are now SuperStream compliant. However, they are far more enthusiastic about e-invoicing.
Peter Strong, who is both the CEO of CoSBA and Chair of the Digital Business Council, can be quoted on its website : ‘eInvoicing is a transformational step in Australia’s digital business movement to a streamlined, integrated and productive economy, and is an exciting step forward especially for the small business community in Australia.’
Executive Superannuation Policy Advisor, VIC