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