September 7th, 2020
In order to transmit invoices securely, it is up to the government to take new steps towards e-invoicing by mandating the use of secure networks and ensuring an electronic invoicing process.
About ten years ago, invoices sent via email became legally valid. As a result, there was a major shift from sending paper invoices by post, to sending PDF invoices by email. Now a new shift is needed: from PDF to e-invoice. Governments have already taken the first step. Meaning, they are capable and ready to receive e-invoices. For instance, the central government of the Netherlands has made a huge effort and now receives more than 50% of their invoices as e-invoices. But now it is time for the next step, because for most other public authorities, PDFs are still the most common way to send invoices. This is disadvantageous, because unlike e-invoices, PDF invoices do not have a fixed structure with prescribed data fields that comply with guidelines. This requires extra manual handling, which takes time and results in errors.
Use Secure Networks
It is important to note that most PDF invoices—and sometimes e-invoices—come in via email. Governments should no longer accept this, because email works with the insecure SMTP protocol. Errors are common when using this protocol, because, for instance, it is possible for an employee to select the wrong email address. This is too risky, mainly because invoices contain sensitive company information. Secure networks, such as Peppol, are available for this very reason.
From PDF Invoice to E-Invoice
To make electronic invoicing over a secure network easier, TIE Kinetix offers a service that converts PDF invoices to e-invoices (XML or any other format). It is called PDF-2-FLOW. With this service, suppliers do not have to change their entire system at short notice; we automatically convert an incoming PDF invoice from a supplier into an e-invoice and deliver it to the recipient via a secure connection. In this way, company-sensitive information is protected and governments receive the e-invoices securely. Suppliers can purchase the PDF-2-FLOW solution themselves, but government agencies can also purchase it and provide it to their suppliers as a service.
Make Outgoing Invoices Electronic
In order to accelerate the shift to secure e-invoicing even more, public authorities also need to ensure that their outbound invoices are electronic. Certainly if, for example, government agencies exchange invoices among themselves, they should expect each other to use e-invoices and secure networks. This will encourage others to follow suit. To help governments switch to e-invoicing on the outbound side, TIE Kinetix offers a convenient total solution for all communication channels. The government organization only has to send the e-invoices, and then we distribute them via the communication channel desired by the recipient. We can also deliver invoices in several ways. For example, if a party requests a PDF, we can also convert an e-invoice to that format. In this way, we directly contribute to awareness in the e-invoicing field.