After the rise of digital invoicing, 2019 will be year that marks a revolution

21/01/2019
Billtobox

Now that the champagne corks have stopped flying about, Jan Druppel looks back on what digital invoicing meant in 2018.

Our Product Director for Documents also sheds light on the key trends for 2019.

New initiatives

Last year, we noticed that digital invoicing is really starting to come alive. The federal government has already launched the OpenPEPPOL network, which requires companies to make use of a purchase order or purchase number. In the meantime, more and more start-ups are entering the playing field by setting up initiatives and developing platforms. Something is really starting to move! Today, sending PDFs by email has pretty much become the standard, but the question is whether we will succeed in replacing these with electronic invoices in the invoicing flow. Only then can you genuinely start optimising your business processes. The first steps were taken last year, but we still have a long way to go.

Economic professions embrace digital invoicing

Ever since about a year ago the economic professions genuinely started to embrace digital invoicing: an important development. Today, 90 per cent of all documents processed by a large number of accountancy firms are digital. These economic professions are very important players in this, because all together they manage around 1.2 million legal entities – the vast majority of Belgian companies. That this community is embracing digital invoicing is an important sign.

Accountancy firms that work digitally manage many more customer files. Take an office with twenty employees as an example. If that office works digitally, it can handle 700 more customer files compared to a competitor who does not. I do not believe that there are many growth opportunities left for companies that process their invoices manually, but I do believe that the value of the economic professions lies in an ability to provide services and act as an independent advisor.

PSD2 becomes a game changer

If we’re talking about 2019, we can’t ignore PSD2. This will unleash a revolution halfway through the year. The integration between documents and payments will be decisive; not only when it comes to ease of use but also in terms of market openness. I strongly believe in PSD2 because payment initiatives will be taking place on non-banking platforms. The current way of working through CODA is coming under so much pressure because it is not related to the size of the company. As a result, PSD2 has an impact on both large companies and SMEs. In the past, large companies were always the first to embrace a new technology, while SMEs adopted a wait-and-see attitude. The openness that the PSD2 payment initiative brings will start for everyone at the same time.

The future of accounting

It is sometimes said that artificial intelligence and machine learning are the future of the accountancy profession. These two things will certainly play a role, but I do not believe that the human factor can be excluded. There is too much room for interpretation and too much need for creativity and knowledge to deal with certain situations. The confidential and personal advisory role with which the accountant serves his clients in order to enable his business to prosper cannot simply be taken over by a robot. What I do believe in is the automation of certain processes. I expect this to continue in 2019.)

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