ACCA research into e-invoicing adoption

ACCA's research reviews the extent and the drivers of e-invoicing adoption in business and the public sector.

As internet penetration increases around the world, paper invoices will gradually become obsolete. The challenge, however, is not to simply de-materialise the traditional invoice, but to move to true e-invoices which bridge the accounting systems of suppliers and customers in real-time.

ACCA believes that this unprecedented level of transparency in transactions will profoundly change everyday business and the role of finance professionals. Pervasive e-invoicing could help make late payment rare and less threatening for suppliers; it could help overcome persistent market failures in business financing by unlocking the full potential of supply chain financing and invoice auctioning; and it could enable tax authorities to restrict the shadow economy while reducing burdens on legitimate business.

ACCA is a member of the UK National E-Invoicing Forum UK and was represented in the European Multi-Stakeholder Forum (EMSF) on E-invoicing in 2011 and 2012. As part of the UK delegation, we led the Forum’s work to identify what policies and commercial practices have most successfully promoted e-invoicing adoption around Europe. This work culminated in ACCA’s report to the European Commission entitled Good Practices in the Adoption and Promotion of E-invoicing in EU Member States..

ACCA was also represented in the EMSF Working Group on improving e-invoicing adoption statistics. Prompted by our experience there, we recommended that a question on e-invoicing be added to the SME Finance Monitor, the definitive survey of UK SMEs’ access to finance. The result was a unique dataset of e-invoicing adoption and the characteristics of adopters, which ACCA used in 2012 to develop its report Use of E-invoicing by SMEs, the first-ever comprehensive report into adoption by UK SMEs.

You can also view a series of three ACCA blogs on the original report and its implications.

2014, ACCA updated and substantially expanded its estimates of e-invoicing adoption among UK SMEs. The resulting report, E-invoicing Adoption by UK SMEs: 2012–13 Estimates, is part of ACCA's contribution to a Parliamentary Inquiry into e-invoicing adoption by the UK public sector, and how it can benefit small government suppliers. The Inquiry, carried out between December 2013 and May 2014, was headed by Stephen McPartland MP and sponsored by MasterCard. It found that the benefits of e-invoicing to the public sector and to its SME suppliers would be sizeable, and that new European legislation was adding to the urgency of its early introduction. A full report of the findings, titled Electronic Invoicing: The Next Steps Towards Digital Government was published by Mastercard in June 2014.