The banks and e-invoicing – Purchasing Insight on why they just don’t get it

Pete Loughlin at Purchasing Insight has published a thought provoking post asking why the banks haven’t got into e-invoicing technology and services. You might indeed stretch that question into some wider supply chain and procurement related areas, but we’ll stick with e-invoicing for now. Here’s Loughlin:

I asked this question to Charles Bryant, senior adviser to the Euro Banking Association....   He thinks there are three reasons why they have largely ignored e-invoicing. Firstly, poor adoption of e-invoicing in the market place. Secondly, the complexity of the market – it’s too different to ordinary banking and it has been seen as pragmatic to wait for the world to simplify. And thirdly because they can’t see where they fit in.

Of course, we all know that the banks aren’t great innovators, at least not in the retail environment as opposed to coming up with complex new corporate derivatives that make them money and seem to bankrupt the rest of us. Even so, you might think they would have played some part in developments in this area, which seems a pretty natural fit for them. But as Pete says:

I’ve never seen the banks as being great innovators – in the sense that they rarely do new things. What they are very good at is doing old things in new ways.

I’d add one other factor, based on my 3 years at NatWest in the late 90s. As Procurement Director, I had no input into the marketing or product development side of the business. Now that may have been my fault as much as anyone’s but NatWest – and others I suspect – just weren’t set up to cross-fertilise any ideas we might have had about supply chain related products or ideas. It was very much a silo structure, with powerful vested interests who did not encourage cross-functional or business unit working.

I’d love to think that has changed. ..   but I wonder.

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