The Dawn of eInvoicing
An Interview with Job van Luyken, Managing Director, Billington
Two and a half years ago, Billington was formed as a joint venture between Getronics (now part of KPN) and ING, focusing initially on providing eInvoicing capabilities to the business-to-consumer (B2C) market. Since then, the company has expanded its range of services to support business-to-business (B2B) eInvoicing and supports clients across Europe. In November 2008, ING took full ownership of Billington and a substantial stakeholding in technology partner Anachron. In this interview, Helen Sanders talks to Job van Luyken, Managing Director of Billington.
Electronic invoicing is still in relatively early stages of development. What led to the formation of Billington?
In 2006, major banks in the Netherlands, ABN AMRO, ING and Rabobank made the decision to adopt a standard for B2C digital invoicing. This would allow companies to send invoices to the internet banking environment of their clients through which they could view invoices and relevant documentation, such as insurance documents, and/or make payments, including both direct debits and credit transfers. In addition to developments in eInvoicing in the Netherlands, we have seen growing interest across Europe in improving operational efficiency and reducing costs. Reducing paper from financial processes saves on paper, printing and mailing costs and enables the invoicing process to be better integrated with broader financial processes, such as payments and reconciliation. In general, it contributes to a more efficient financial supply chain.
Whilst not very efficient, current invoicing processes are deeply embedded within the company.
ING recognised early on that eInvoicing would become more important in the future, and wanted to play a part in it. Business partner Getronics was an ideal choice due to their experience in the print and mail business.
What progress have you seen in eInvoicing since Billington was first founded?
eInvoicing has undoubtedly grown substantially, with around 8% of invoices across Europe now presented electronically, although there are of course significant variances between countries. In the B2C market, electronic invoices for utilities, telecoms and other household payments are becoming increasingly acceptable and convenient, and in the B2B market too, companies see the advantages on both sides of the eInvoicing process.
However, although there is a great deal of talk about eInvoicing, and the business case for every type of company is compelling, eInvoicing still remains the “big promise” and we envisage substantial developments still to come in the future.