Getting ready for the digital economy with e-invoices
Electronic invoicing, or e-invoices, are being seen as one of the crucial forms of technology that businesses in Thailand are going to need to embrace if the country as a whole is going to continue to compete at a high level in the international marketplace.
Taking Thailand towards an increasingly digital economy is one of the key functions of the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA) which announced last December that it had developed a way of invoicing information transfers and would unveil its electronic-invoice platform early in 2015.
The ETDA said it will join with the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) to jointly set out the definitions of the process for establishing international electronic data interchange standards for electronic trades.
While the neighbourhood corner store may continue to deal in written invoices and receipts, the nature of the global economy at the import-export level requires Thailand, and other nations serious about getting the best returns for their products, embrace what will inevitably become the standards for international trade.
The ETDA says by participating with the UN/CEFAT will give Thailand a voice among member nations in developing the standards for electronic invoicing across the world.
The ETDA’s special areas of interest as far as a global standard framework are concerned centre around electronic-related auto parts (given the importance of the auto industry within Thailand), destination travel information, and cloud computing.
The unveiling of its e-invoice platform, which has been developed by the ETDA in conjunction with the Bank of Thailand, the Excise Department and the Federation of Thai Industries, is aimed at helping local businesses enhance their overall efficiency by reducing the costs of printing and postage.
As well, the e-invoice platform will make handling supplier invoices a lot easier, faster, and more productive, according to a spokesperson from the ETDA.
At its most basic, e-invoicing will allow the digital transfer of invoicing information, primarily billing and payment, between businesses, linking the internal processes of enterprises to payment systems.
The ETDA conducted a survey looking into the overall costs of paper-based invoicing for large and medium-sized companies. For a bank, as an example, the ETDA estimated annual expenditure of 3.31 billion baht a year. This equated to an average outlay of four baht per page as the cost of processing invoices.
Clearly, apart from the simple financial savings which would accrue to moving onto an e-invoice platform, there is the reduced amount of paper that needs to be involved. So, there is a ‘green’ reason for making such a move, as well as the cost savings and improved efficiencies in terms of tracking invoicing and payments.