Will 2013 be the year that we finally leave paper invoices behind?



Swedish “anti-mail” solution Kivra just launched an iOS app to help users manage their paper mail and their bills.

Kivra was launched last year by former Klarna partner and executive Robert Wahlström. Kivra is a digital mailbox where users can sign up and ask companies to send their important documents in electronic format rather than in the mail. It also offers a one click payment option to settle bills. According to Crunchbase, the company received $ 2 million in seed funding to date.

Kivra touts the solution as an ecological way to get rid of paper mail, but it looks like they will mostly make money as a middle man in the payment process.

It’s further indication that 2013 could be the year that banks and corporations want to push us towards us e-billing instead of sending out paper bills. Tradeshift, which last week announced a major deal with Intuit, is also working towards getting rid of paper invoicing  (between companies mostly).

The European Commission estimates that switching to e-invoicing will save € 64 billion per year for companies and organizations throughout Europe, but the adoption of e-invoicing is slow.

A Belgium system called ZoomIt currently has about 60 partners who send their bills through the system, but they’re mostly the big telcos and energy companies.
E-invoices seem to suffer from the classic chicken-and-egg problem: if consumers don’t use it, companies might not see the benefit of pushing it. And when the enterprises aren’t pushing it, consumers seem happy to keep paying bills the old fashioned way (even if it requires typing in long sequences of numbers).
On top of that, e-invoicing might not fit into the processes of many businesses. Many companies have a “2 signature” approval process for payments, which is easier to do with paper invoices than with e-invoices.

To speed the adoption, the EU wants to make e-invoicing mandatory for public procurement by 2016. This, with the private initiatives that finally seem to gather steam, may mark 2013 as a watershed year for e-invoicing.

photo: dcJohn, Flickr

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Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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