E-invoicing in Singapore: what you need to know

July 9, 2020 James Hayward

Enterprises doing business in Singapore have a unique opportunity to digitize their accounts payable processes and transform the way they connect to their supply chain using e-invoicing. 

The city-state recently adopted a national e-invoicing network based on the PEPPOL (Pan European Public Procurement On-Line) standards, as part of the authorities drive to digitize business.

After its soft launch in 2019, the Singaporean authorities announced earlier this year that the network is open to all business in the country.  

While e-invoicing isn’t mandatory in Singapore, the authorities are strongly encouraging businesses to take advantage of the network. And they’re offering enterprise buyers a grant covering 50% of the implementation cost, capped at S$150,000 (US$107,000) for a limited period to get started. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that join the network as sellers will also receive a grant of S$200 (US$140) and can get started right away using Tradeshift

Let’s take a closer look at what’s happening in Singapore and how businesses in the country can benefit. 

Singapore and PEPPOL: the perfect match

For a country at the cutting edge of digital, Singapore was comparatively slow to adopt a national e-invoicing program. But policymakers have worked to close that gap by adopting and rolling out a nationwide e-invoicing network based on PEPPOL standards. 

The use of PEPPOL standards might have raised some eyebrows, given many countries outside of Europe are choosing to develop their own standards. But it’s a logical decision given the country’s position as a major hub for global commerce and PEPPOL’s stated aim to remove barriers to cross-border trade. 

Tan Kiat How, the Chief Executive of Singapore’s Info-communications Media Development Authority explained this in more detail at the launch of the network.  “We carefully reviewed the various e-Invoicing standards around the world, including the option of whether we should design our own Singapore Standard,” he said. “But we decided the best way forward that would help companies plug into an international global marketplace is by adopting a global standard, and PEPPOL has a proper standard.”

The use of PEPPOL standards also makes sense from an adoption standpoint. As an open network PEPPOL  allows sellers to easily begin e-invoicing all their customers, no matter what platform they are using, with little to no integration or testing on their side—the PEPPOL protocols do all that hard work for them.

E-invoicing will deliver multiple benefits for companies in Singapore

There are many good reasons for businesses in Singapore to take advantage of the country’s e-invoicing network and start digitally transacting with their supply chain. 

Some benefits companies can realize include: 

  • Reduced invoice processing costs by up to 90%

  • Accelerated the invoice processing cycle to get early payment discounts or use innovative methods of financing to support sellers

  • Increased supply chain visibility and transparency

  • Reduced seller enquiries by as much as 100%

  • Enhanced fraud mitigation and risk management

  • Simplified tax and legal compliance

  • Simplified digital cross-border trade with other companies in countries connected to the PEPPOL E-Delivery Network.

These are the immediate benefits companies usually see when they shift to e-invoicing. But this is often just the start. Digitally connecting the supply chain through e-invoicing is the catalyst for a wider transformational change. Change which enables companies to create a more robust and flexible supply chain that’s a value creator for the organization.

Picking a PEPPOL certified Access Point provider  

To get started using Singapore’s e-invoicing network enterprise buyers will need to select a certified PEPPOL access point provider. There are several providers a business can choose from, including Tradeshift.

While all these providers easily provide a connection to Singapore’s e-invoicing network, what they offer businesses isn’t the same. It’s therefore important that business leaders carefully consider what solution provides the most value to their business in both the short and long term.

We’ve teamed with Gartner to help you find the best fit for your business. But, in brief, some questions to ask of providers include:

Will the solution deliver immediate value? 

Implementing an e-invoicing solution is sometimes a long and arduous process. But it doesn't have to be that way. Leading SaaS companies have made great strides to make implementation a breeze and provide immediate value. So before making any decision, it’s worth fully understanding each provider's implementation process and how quickly they can deliver value. 

Will sellers use the platform?

Seller adoption is often a major roadblock to successful e-invoicing implementations. That’s because typi​cal e-invoicing approaches create more work for sellers with very little return on investment. And while the simplicity of the PEPPOL standards, plus the S$200 grant from the Singaporean government may tempt some sellers to adopt e-invoicing, others might need more convincing of the value they get from making the switch. So find out what a provider does to drive maximum seller adoption before making your decision. 

What more can the platform do for the business? 

Digitizing the invoicing processes provides businesses with the foundation to drive innovation across the full P2P processes and beyond. But not all providers have solutions that enable much more than the digitization of invoices. It’s therefore worth your time to  find out what else a provider does to create value and digitally transform other parts of the end-to-end supply chain process. 

Does the solution have a global reach? 

A large business in Singapore is unlikely to just do business in the country. It’s also unlikely that it’ll just do business with companies in countries connected to the PEPPOL network. And that can be a problem if the chosen solution doesn’t have the global reach to connect to all the digital invoicing networks out there. So before making any decision, it’s worth finding out the footprint of each provider and whether they match that of your business.

Get started today

There has never been a better time for companies in Singapore to kick start an e-invoicing initiative. But with the Singaporean authorities offering the S$150,000 for a limited time period, it’s imperative that businesses act now to take full advantage of the opportunity. 

Tradeshift is an IMDA authorized PEPPOL Access Point Provider, and we’re ready to get your business connected today. Find out more. 

About the Author

James Hayward

James is a Senior Content Marketing Manager at Tradeshift, focused on crafting compelling stories that provide supply chain professionals with unique insights and actionable advice on how to take their organization to the next level. A journalist by trade, James was previously the Global Editor at Treasury Today magazine.

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