Trans-Tasman e-invoice could save $30b in 10 years

Part of push for ‘seamless trans-Tasman business environment’

The New Zealand and Australian governments are inviting submissions on a proposed trans-Tasman e-invoicing standard, being developed as part of the Single Economic Market agenda (SEM), designed to create a seamless trans-Tasman business environment.

They have issued a discussion paper Early thinking: Operational governance for trans-Tasman e-Invoicing setting out details of the proposed standard and asking for submissions.

New Zealand's small business minister, Stuart Nash, said the productivity gains resulting from a common e-invoice standard could translate into economic benefits in excess of $30 billion over 10 years.

"New Zealand and Australian businesses process around 1.3 billion invoices annually, and e-invoicing aims to help them save time and money by allowing the direct exchange of invoices between suppliers’ and buyers’ financial systems," he said.

"We want to create a seamless trans-Tasman business environment and e-invoicing is part of that."

Nash said feedback could be provided via the Ministry of Business & Innovation web site. "We’re looking for people to give us feedback on the framework that will be used for the day to day operation of e-invoicing in Australia and New Zealand.”

The New Zealand government committed operating funding to support the e-invoicing collaboration in its 2018 budget and in May 2018, the Australian Government confirmed that work to progressively adopt e-invoicing would begin across all levels of government.

In August 2018 both governments agreed on five design principles to underly the joint e-invoice standard.

- Interoperable single digital economic market – including systems, technology, semantic models, alignment of international standards to ensure ease of trade across jurisdictions;

- Digital inclusion – to enable easy access to all businesses and digital service providers and aligned to the Digital Service Standard for both Australia and New Zealand;

- Open and responsive to change and innovation – ability to respond to changes in a dynamic environment whilst enabling innovation in broader contexts such as procure-to-pay and eDelivery/digital message exchange;

- System integrity – trusted and secure;

- Government commitment – commitment by multiple layers of governments to deliver an integrated solution across multiple jurisdictions.

The discussion paper says the preferred option for operational governance of trans-Tasman e-invoicing, after an initial establishment phase, is an industry-led, self-funded (not-for-profit), incorporated entity with a board of directors consisting of industry stakeholder representatives appointed by A-NZ industry groups and governments.

The discussion paper also offers for consideration the e-invoicing interoperability framework developed by the Australian Digital Business Council (DBC), an industry driven initiative of peak Australian industry bodies, technology providers with involvement from government agencies.

It says: "The framework aims is to provide certainty on how a prescribed set of established open standards can be used to extend e-invoicing to all Australian businesses, minimise the cost of implementation for software providers and enhance business interactions (especially for micro to small businesses) by making invoicing an automatic digital interaction."

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