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Singapore adopts PEPPOL Standard to launch nationwide e-invoicing framework

On 21 May, it was announced that Singapore will be implementing the Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line (PEPPOL) e-invoicing standard. This move makes Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) the first national PEPPOL authority outside of Europe and the first National Authority in Asia to adopt the standard.

Electronic invoicing or e-invoicing is the automated creation, exchange and processing of request for payments between suppliers and buyers using a structured digital format. It is a starting point for end-to-end digitalisation of businesses and is different from existing, digitised invoices which require some level of human input to process.

The PEPPOL is an open standard which enables the exchange of standardised machine-readable documents over its network. Within the PEPPOL e-invoicing network, companies who wish to adopt e-invoicing must subscribe to an Access Point (AP) Provider of their choice. Then, companies can send their e-invoices to their AP Provider, which checks and verifies the receiving of the company’s PEPPOL address through the Service Metadata Publisher (SMP). The AP Provider then sends the document to the relevant receiving AP Provider, and then to the receiving party.

The e-invoicing network benefits businesses in multiple ways, including cost reduction, faster payment processing, improved efficiency, lowered chances of errors and disputes, increased access to financial services and transparency, etc.

Currently, the tried and tested PEPPOL standard is handling millions of transactions across Europe. The PEPPOL standard is best positioned to meet Singapore’s domestic needs while having an international outlook as it is an open standard that intends to bridge interoperability across competing business solutions, provides clear technical and legal frameworks at national and international levels. It is also a single and standardised means of issuing and receiving e-invoices with others on the network.

The PEPPOL standard is maintained by OpenPEPPOL, a non-profit international association established in 2012. It serves to connect over 120,000 entities. In 2017, PEPPOL conducted over 60 million e-invoices.

IMDA as the National PEPPOL Authority of Singapore

IMDA and OpenPEPPOL have signed a letter of appointment to formalise IMDA as the National PEPPOL Authority in Singapore, and the 11th national PEPPOL authority in the network.

“IMDA is proud to be the newest PEPPOL Authority, the first outside of Europe and first in Asia. Common standards such as PEPPOL are crucial for businesses to benefit from an increasingly digital and interconnected global economy. By adopting PEPPOL as a nationwide e-invoicing standard, IMDA is helping businesses in Singapore to benefit from digitalisation and better position them to plug into the international marketplace,” said Mr Tan Kiat How, Chief Executive of IMDA.

As Singapore’s PEPPOL Authority, IMDA will set rules and specifications that meet Singapore’s domestic requirements, as well as appoint and certify service metadata publishers and Access Point (AP) providers. It will also ensure conformance to the PEPPOL technical and service standards.

Integration with Vendors@Gov

To integrate Vendors@Gov into the nationwide e-invoicing framework, the Accountant General’s Department (AGD) will be working closely with IMDA to catalyse B2B transactions and champion technological change in the business sector.

AGD and IMDA will also explore how government procurement processes in conjunction with PEPPOL standards can be used to drive industry adoption of other common business messages.

The National Trade Platform

The National Trade Platform will also support the nationwide e-invoicing framework as one of the key international standards for trade documents accepted on the platform.

According to Mr Evan Law, Chief Executive of the Singapore Accountancy Commission, “with e-invoicing, accounting and finance departments can expect productivity gains from the automation of invoice generation and processing, as well as better data-driven insights into the business”.

IMDA has received interest from 45 government agencies, large private sector entities, associations and technology solution providers to integrate or be part of the nationwide e-invoicing framework. Government agencies who will explore connecting their systems and processes into the framework include the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).

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