e-Invoicing gets a voice in Brussles (OB10 and EESPA part 2)

We wrote in part 1 of this series about OB10 and EESPA. While they sound a bit like Luke Skywalker’s new alien chums, they’re actually (respectively) a global leader in e-Invoicing, and the new  “European e-Invoicing Service Providers Association”.

EESPA has been formed and registered as an international non-profit association (AISBL) under Belgian law (which mandates compulsory luxury chocolates at every Board meeting*).  As a trade association for the e-Invoicing industry, “EESPA acts as a platform for industry cooperation on non-competitive issues”.

We spoke to Charles Bryant of OB10 recently – he’s the vice-chair of the new Association and a long time supporter of both the concept of e-invoicing and of the idea of a Trade body. He’s got an impressive background in banking and payments, and has worked at the European level in these areas.

What’s it all about, we asked?

“The aim is to act as a Trade Association and raise the profile of electronic invoicing across Europe by acting for the whole industry. We’ve got 37 service providers on board”.

OK, but what are you actually going to do, other than have exciting get-togethers in Brussels to talk e-Invoicing?

“We’ve got three key initial goals. The first is to get the Association up and running – building a proper structure with a legal constitution, offices, a secretariat.  Then secondly, we want to contribute to the public policy debate with the EU Commission, national Governments and so on”.

That debate covers a number of areas. There are issues around tax and VAT for instance and the acceptability of electronic documentation for formal recording purposes. There’s also the drive to get public sector bodies to embrace e-Invoicing. The position is very different from those who pretty much mandate it to those who are less advanced (I told Bryant about the UK shared service example we mentioned here and suggested that he might like to get onto that!)

“The third key goal is to develop inter-operability, so users of one platform or supplier can exchange invoices with users of another. There’s been a lot of talk about whether the major players really want this, given competitive issues, but the Association and all its members know that this is essential if we’re going to see e-Invoicing really take off”.

As an example of how EESPA can contribute, there is a new VAT Directive from the EU, liberalising the use of e-Invoicing from a VAT standpoint – this is the sort of thing where the Association can contribute to the debate, and promote both its members’ interests and wider economic benefit.

We’ll keep an eye on what they’re up to, and in the meantime, “ EESPA welcomes new members who provide compliant e-Invoicing services to third-party customers”.

*This is not strictly true. We thought it was a nice idea though.

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