Singapore’s ambitious plan to adopt a nationwide, interoperable electronic invoicing framework demonstrates the changing nature of procurement – which today occurs via a number of platforms, currencies and often across borders. Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information (MCI) has suggested that e-invoicing is the future for businesses in the country, noting: “Without an invoice, businesses do not get paid. But invoicing can be very tedious and manual, with many inherent errors. E-invoicing can change that.”

As such, Singapore has opted to embrace the PEPPOL (Pan-European Public Procurement Online) e-invoicing standard. The initiative was co-funded by the European Commission to enable European wide exchange of electronic invoices and business documents amongst private and public businesses of any size to foster European-wide commerce opportunities. Singapore is the first Asian country to join the program, which is currently used by 19 European countries including Britain, Germany, and Norway.

What will this mean for businesses in Singapore?

Tan Kiat How, Chief Executive of Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA), the unit spearheading the initiative said: "We carefully reviewed the various e-invoicing standards around the world, including the option of whether we should design our own Singapore standard, (but) we decided the best way forward that would help companies plug into international global marketplace is adopting a global standard, and PEPPOL has a proper standard." 

Although the timeline for launch is yet to be determined, IMDA will be working with government agencies, trade associations and chambers such as the Singapore Business Federation to implement the e-invoicing standard, and drive adoption of a common framework across the business sector. So far 45 public and private sector organisations, including the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and OCBC Bank, have expressed interest in using the system – so it will be interesting to see these discussions evolve over the coming months.

What does this mean for global companies?

Global suppliers conducting business with customers in Singapore will need to ensure they are compliant should this regulation be implemented. Whilst it will take time to understand the PEPPOL framework in the Singaporean context, and implement the tools to successfully be compliant – organisations will benefit from faster payment cycles, and a likely increase in e-invoicing rates for global companies.

How can Basware help?

Basware is a leading participant in the PEPPOL network across Europe and APAC; we take a pragmatic approach to using standards that make the most sense to our users. To this end, we believe in adopting a proven solution to facilitate integration across systems. We look forward to leveraging the common standard to bring e-invoicing functionality to a wide range of businesses and business functions in this market, and beyond.

If you’re doing business in Singapore and want to learn more, contact us – we’re here to help.