E-Invoicing in the spotlight

Featured

e-invoicing 20-8-2019 smOver 50 countries across the world are looking into implementing e-invoicing systems, thanks to the advantages of true electronic billing and invoicing.

Electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) was brought under the microscope in the United Kingdom in 2014 after the UK Government launched an inquiry into e-invoicing in the public sector, and announced e-invoicing initiatives to be rolled out by April 2019.

At the time, the MP tasked with the inquiry, Stephen McPartland, positioned e-invoicing as a technology that could streamline UK government admin processes “at a stroke”, saving the public sector and its suppliers a minimum of £2 billion a year. “E-invoicing could open up new markets throughout the country and help drive innovation and economic growth.”

This followed a new standard and directive on e-invoicing by the European Parliament in April 2014, which made it mandatory for all EU Member States to adopt a new e-invoicing standard. According to the directive, “all contracting authorities and contracting entities [are to] to receive and process e-invoices complying with the European standard”.

“We live in a world driven by digital innovation where efficiency and productivity benchmark new standards and expectations for business,” states McPartland’s report.

But what does this relatively new billing method – made possible by digital technology – entail, and could it live up to the expectations that have started to gain a foothold not only in the UK and Europe, but in countries all over the world?

A research paper, set to be released in the coming months by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), expounds how mandatory e-invoicing in Peru is helping increase firm sales and tax revenues. “Drawn by its potential to strengthen tax compliance and reduce costs, Peru is among more than 50 countries around the world to have implemented e-invoicing and many others are preparing to follow suit.”

About e-Invoicing

Essentially, an e-invoice is a statement created by suppliers and businesses to send to customers and clients requesting money. Typically, these are sent in PDF form and allow for circumvention of manual paper-based processes and physical paper documents that require a further set of physical procedures.

True e-invoicing – i.e. invoicing that is electronic in nature from start to finish – offers total automation, which in turn enables higher levels of efficiency and productivity, as well as significant financial savings in terms of resources.

Wikipedia defines e-invoicing as a form of electronic billing. “E-invoicing methods are used by trading partners, such as customers and their suppliers, to present and monitor transactional documents between one another and ensure the terms of their trading agreements are being met. These documents include invoices, purchase orders, debit notes, credit notes, payment terms and instructions, and remittance slips.”

The advantages of this system of electronic billing that over 50 countries across the world are looking at implementing, extend to both suppliers and buyers, and broadly include:

  • Process automation, which means time and money savings and, in turn, faster payment time.
  • Less disputes, due to the fact that invoice data is directly transmitted from supplier to customer electronically, creating a full audit trail.
  • Mitigation of human error, thanks to the high level of automation in the invoicing cycle.
  • Better supplier/buyer relationship and improved customer satisfaction, because processes are far more streamlined and reliable.

For more information on the automation of invoices and SigniFlow’s digital business solutions, visit our website, https://signiflow.com/, or contact us on the relevant number below:

International Contact Centre: 002710 300 4899

South Africa: +27(0)11-516-9403

Americas: +1-603-717-4248

United Kingdom: +44(0)208-611-2681

[REFERENCES]  

  1. European Commission – European legislation on e-invoicing
  2. Wikipedia – Electronic Invoicing
  3. Finextra – Electronic Invoicing in the UK Public Sector, post Brexit
  4. European Union – eInvoicing in United Kingdom
  5. NHS – Is your organisation on board with e-invoicing?
  6. PEPPOL (Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line) – e-Invoicing explained
  7. NHS – NHS Shared Business Services eInvoicing Information Guide for Suppliers (PDF)
  8. Future-Focused Finance – eInvoicing: a win-win for providers and commissioners
  9. IMF – Electronic invoicing reform in Peru paying off
  10. Finextr – Electronic Invoicing in the UK Public Sector, Post Brexit
  11. tips – Electronic Invoicing: The next steps towards digital government (2014 Report following Inquiry into electronic invoicing (‘eInvoicing’) in the UK public sector.)
  12. EUR-Lex – Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 on electronic invoicing in public procurement

Top ten benefits of digital signatures

Featured

We have compiled a list of the main benefits we’ve seen from companies that have implemented digital signature solutions.  

Blog Digital Signature benefits

The technology we have at our disposal today makes for exciting times, with ever-evolving digital tools drastically changing the way business is done.

As an international provider of digital solutions, SigniFlow is grateful to be at the forefront of this exciting era, and to see the different ways in which our solutions empower businesses of all sizes to streamline processes, become compliant and ultimately serve their customers better.

On the back of this, we’ve put together a list of the top ten benefits we have seen at play in the businesses we serve with our solutions, which have secure digital signatures at their core.

  1. Document Security. Nobody wants to have to go into crisis management mode when important paper documents are stolen, misplaced or destroyed due to a fire, flood or other unforeseen disaster. The fact is, these things happen – and prevention is always better than cure. Digital document management and storage eliminates the chances of physical records going missing or being destroyed.
  2. Company image. Using digital signatures and finalising contracts and agreements so much faster than expectations have always dictated shows clients your business has the latest technology in place, and is serious about efficiency. For one of our clients, the fact that they used a digital signature and workflow solution turned out to be a differentiator when it came to them getting a deal.
  3. Corporate social responsibility. There is without doubt increased awareness and a higher expectation for companies to be environmentally aware nowadays. Using digital signatures and supporting a paperless business model demonstrates that you as a company are aware of the impact using paper has on the environment, and willing to employ solutions to minimise damage. Paper pollution causes serious adverse effects to the quality of air, water and land around us. Not only is discarded paper a major component of landfill sites, paper recycling in itself is a major source of pollution, given all the sludge that is produced during de-inking.
  4. Time management. There is nothing more time consuming – not to mention frustrating – than having to spend hours searching for physical documents that went through a lengthy manual signing, managing & storing process – and straight into a proverbial black hole. Digital Signatures turn hours – sometimes days or even weeks – into mere minutes by allowing you to quickly find the required documents, on a secure server, and then action them.
  5. Simplification of processes. One of our recently acquired customers were pleasantly surprised to see how simple going digital and paperless was, and how quickly our solution was able to save them time and money by simplifying day-to-day business processes. “We initially thought the change to digital processes would complicate things and take so much time to implement, but it turns out it was simpler than any single manual process we’ve done in the past, and our employees were happy and quick to get on board and move away from old manual contract signing and filing systems.”
  6. Customer satisfaction. We love to hear feedback from our customers about their customers, because we understand how much value a customer holds for a company. While organisations stand to benefit hugely from going paperless – in both monetary and time-saving terms – the customers they serve reap just as many rewards, including convenience, speed and efficiency. At the end of the day, a happy customer means a happy bottom line.
  7. Eradication of fraud. It’s no secret that any semi-skilled con artist can forge a physical signature. Digital signatures completely eliminate the risk of forgery, because they are backed by a unique digital identity, based on globally accepted Public Key Infrastructure standards. There is no higher level of security when it comes to signing a document.
  8. Legality. One of the things we frequently get asked by customers, is whether digital signatures are legally valid across all parts of the world. The answer is yes. SigniFlow digital signatures were developed with both security and compliance at their core, and are compliant with European, US, South African and international regulations for electronic transactions and trust services. Our solution uses state-of-the-art digital cryptographic signature technology that allows businesses and their customers to sign documents remotely and securely, with the sound knowledge that they are signing with signatures that are legally binding.
  9. Money savings. This is probably the most immediately raved about benefit see when companies deploy digital signatures. Apart from the obvious money-saving benefits that come with not having to print documents out, such as no more paper, ink, printers and maintenance, there are other associated cost savings enabled by digital document management and storage, such as needing less physical office space (which is often one of the biggest expenses a company has), and document distribution.
  10. Audit trails. In business, the ability to trace documents to their origin is crucial – not only for internal records, but also for the sake of transparency, compliance and protection of company information. Our digital signature workflow system provides businesses with a full digital audit trail, kept with documents in the SigniFlow workspace, stored on secure servers.

For more information on our solutions, visit our website www.signiflow.com or contact us by submitting an online query HERE or calling us: International Contact Centre Tel: 002710 300 4899 / From South Africa Tel: 011 516 9403.

Still reliant on paper processes? It’s time to pull the plug

Featured

Stop allowing paper processes to drain your business of money and your employees of productivity, and start reaping the benefits of digital.

Doing business in today’s fast-paced, digitally charged world is nothing short of dog-eat-dog. Companies simply have to be able to operate optimally at all times – or risk being devoured by competitors.

Fortunately, with the Digital Revolution now in full swing, state-of-the-art technology and software make it easier for business owners to keep their eyes on the prize at all times, by ridding operations and employees of distractions and impediments to productivity.

Of course, there are productivity drains that remain – and one of the biggest and perhaps simplest to mitigate these days, is paper.

If your company’s processes are still primarily paper-based, you are putting serious – and unnecessary – strain on your business. It’s a proven fact: Relying on manual methods and paper to complete business processes not only hampers productivity, it is also a huge drain on resources.

Think about this: how much time do your employees spend searching through cabinet upon cabinet of paper records to find the document they are looking for? And how much easier and faster could this process be, if the documents were digitally archived, able to be indexed at the touch of a few buttons or with a few clicks?

Imagine employees no longer had to spend their time printing, filing and sorting paper documents, and could rather use their time constructively, while at the same time cutting out some of the physical costs associated with outdated paper processes.

And how much time, money and physical office space could you save if you were to replace paper with the cloud? Consider costs of not only paper itself, but associated costs like printing and courier expenses.

Going beyond the advantages of digital business processes for your business internally, the ability to offer the very lifeline of your business – your customers – speed, security and innovation, is priceless. It’s a well-known fact that today’s customer wants speed and simplicity – which is exactly what digital offers, from onboarding processes to instant finalisation of agreements and contracts online.

Today, it’s no longer a question of whether to go digital, but of when to go digital. And the answer is now. Stop relying on processes that consume resources and drain productivity – and start enjoying the software at your disposal, the digital resources that enable you to streamline operations and elevate your company’s reputation.

New fintech partnership to escalate RapidLEI growth in South Africa

Featured

Innovative new partnership sees LEIs encapsulated in digital signing applications.

South Africa-based customer communications company, PBSA, and UK-based Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) innovator, RapidLEI, today announced a strategic partnership that will see PBSA become a regional Registration Agent (RA) for RapidLEI as well as build LEI support into its signing solutions.

RapidLEI was launched in 2018 by Ubisecure and has been taking the world by storm through a growing network of global partners, with PBSA representing the next stage in this continued expansion. RapidLEI’s pioneering automatic LEI issuance process sees it reduced from a few days to a few minutes. With regulation mandating the use of LEIs and new use cases now benefitting from the identity assurance LEIs can offer, this G20-endorsed organisation identifier is already achieving mass adoption and shows no sign of slowing down.

PBSA, as a RapidLEI Registration Agent, will meet client demand for LEIs in South Africa, as well as offering LEIs in other regions they are expanding to, such as Europe and the USA, via their SigniFlow brand.

The RapidLEI solution makes LEIs available through a SaaS service or API. The API allows third party developers to build same-session LEI issuance into their applications, which will be used to its full extent by PBSA in the first stage of this collaboration. While strong identities like BankID & eID are beginning to be used to digitally sign documents, this new partnership adds organisational identity to the digital seal in the form of an LEI. Encapsulating the LEI in the company seal gives the other party the opportunity to check identities against a live global company database – verifying which company signed this document, and also their parent company/group structure.

After this initial phase of the partnership, PBSA and Ubisecure plan to collaborate further on additional pioneering identity assurance solutions. Ubisecure will be launching new services in the coming weeks, where LEIs are central to new organisation Identity Provider (IdP) solutions for advanced KYC (Know your Customer) and RtX (Right to Represent). These cutting-edge services will help enterprises to reduce fraud, lower compliance costs and create new products using verified organisation identities.

Leon Van Der Merwe, Director at PBSA, says “We’re very excited to bring Ubisecure’s pioneering approach to digital identity to the South African market and beyond, and have our global customers benefit from strong organisation identities offered by our signing solutions. Our long-held ideals of collaboration, integrity and accountability go hand in hand with what the LEI stands for – trust in who you’re doing business with.”

Paul Tourret, Corporate Development Officer at RapidLEI, says “We are incredibly honoured to be collaborating with the largest South African signing/workflow provider to connect the LEI ecosystem to the signing ecosystem, and we see a lot of potential to further enhance online trust with LEIs and the Ubisecure IdP services as we connect the various ecosystems together. We see this collaboration being the start of a dramatic shift in how LEIs are used in modern digital transactions.”

Find out more about LEIs at www.rapidlei.com, or get in touch now.

About PBSA

With a rich history of innovation dating back over 90 years, PBSA (formerly Pitney Bowes SA) is a leading customer communications company, offering software, equipment and services to help companies improve operational efficiencies and connect with their customers in more meaningful ways.

Based in Midrand, Gauteng, PBSA understands both hardware and software solutions and is optimally positioned to provide a secure, committed support infrastructure to its international customer base. The company’s solutions help companies engage customers, gain business insight, manage document workflow and ultimately optimise overall business performance.

Visit www.pbsa.co.za to learn more.

PBSA LEI: 984500S5591EMD8BCB56

About SigniFlow

Created in South Africa by a team of passionate Johannesburg-based IT minds, SigniFlow is a core workflow, digital document management and cryptographic digital signature engine that works, either on its own, or fully integrated with existing core business systems.

SigniFlow uses the most advanced and trusted digital signature technologies known to man, enabling powerful workflow functionality and ease of document distribution to automate any business process.

SigniFlow has a team of cryptographic experts, experienced engineers and business process automation architects to assist businesses in their digitalisation journey.

About Ubisecure & RapidLEI

Ubisecure is accredited by the Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF) to issue Legal Entity Identifiers (LEI). RapidLEI is a Ubisecure service that automates the LEI lifecycle to deliver LEIs quickly and easily. As well as pioneering LEI automation, the company is a technology innovator and provides identity management software and cloud identity services that enable enterprises and governments to enhance customer experience, security and privacy through support for strong identities and management of customer identity data. Ubisecure also provides solutions to companies maintaining their own strong customer identities (such as banks and mobile network operators) to become Identity Providers (IdP) for strong authentication and federation services.

For more information please visit www.rapidlei.com or www.ubisecure.com

Ubisecure LEI: 529900T8BM49AURSDO55

Paid-up court judgments for bad debt now easier to rescind

CaptureAn amendment to the law that governs how courts treat bad-debt judgments against companies and individuals makes it much easier for these to be revoked once paid up.

Finally some good news for South African companies and individuals that have been affected by court judgments for bad debt: Once paid up, bad-debt judgments will now be much easier to remove.

This comes after an amendment (Clause 14 into Section 23A of the Courts of Law Amendment Act No. 7 of 2017) to the law on how courts handle bad-debt judgments.

As of 11 March 2019, a company or consumer that has settled their bad debt no longer needs to prove to the courts that there is a sound reason for their judgments to be removed. Previously, those with bad-debt judgments against them had to follow an arduous process known as rescission of judgment, which basically means having a judgment revoked.

Rescission of judgment historically involved a lot of red tape, including a lengthy application process and solid justification, and often hefty costs – and after all of this, there was still no guarantee that the court would accept the justification provided, and consent to reversal of the judgment.

Now, a company or consumer simply needs to show that their debt – including any interest and/or costs accrued from the judgment – has been paid in full, and the related bad-debt judgment can be reversed by the court. There is also no longer need to obtain permission for reversal from the party that obtained the judgment originally.

What does the amendment mean for pbVerify customers?

As South Africa’s leading data bureau, one of pbVerify’s priorities and chief services to you, as our valued client, is to allow you to grant credit to customers with complete confidence. This is why we welcome the latest amendment to the Courts of Law Amendment Act.

If you are a business that has customers for whom you have requested bad-debt judgments, the amendment means those customers now have far more incentive to pay up their debt, as this will allow them to have the judgment against their name removed. Previously, many individuals may have shirked paying their debts, because the judgment against their name would still stand.

If you are a business that yourself has a bad-debt judgment, you can now rest assured that, after paying the relevant creditor or originator of the judgement, you can wipe your company’s bad-debt slate clean.

While there are still processes and costs involved – and some feel the move may benefit companies more than individual consumers – it has been lauded as largely beneficial for any debtor that wants to clear their credit record.

[REFERENCES]

  1. Business Insider – Bad debt judgments now easier to overturn with new rescission rules
  2. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development – Self-help guidelines for Consent Rescission of Default Judgment
  3. RNEWS – New provisions for rescissions of Paid-Up Judgements
  4. Fin24 – Rescission of judgment explained
  5. Parliament (PDF) – Portfolio Committee amendments to the Courts of Law Amendment Bill

 

pbVerify provides an easy to use, web-based system that instantly connects your business to real-time consumer and business information from the four largest credit bureaus in South Africa, the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, Deeds Office and other business-critical data providers. pbVerify’s business tools enable you to instantly access current and accurate information to assist you in preventing fraud, identifying, tracing and assessing debtors, and effectively managing risk in your business at all times.

Electronic vs Digital Signatures: Defining the Difference

Featured

electronic vs digital signatures EDITED“Electronic” and “digital” are often used as interchangeable prefixes to the word “signature” – but there are vast differences between the two.

We are all familiar with, and have at some stage in our daily goings-on, dealt with the traditional “wet-ink” signature. In today’s digitally-charged world, however, this is fast becoming obsolete as more secure, efficient means of signing documents are developed.

A signature is essentially a means of binding an individual to the contents of a document, by way of an intentional mark. It typically signifies knowledge, approval, acceptance, or obligation.

That may be common knowledge, however, the advent of the digital signature has turned the humble handwritten signature on its head, introducing a number of new (and entirely exciting) facets, including a whole new set of terminology.

A digital signature, in its base form, is a digital code created and authenticated by public key encryption, which is attached to an electronic document to verify its contents and the sender’s identity.

But, largely dependent on where you are in the world, “digital” and “electronic” are often confused – or wrongly used interchangeably – in both conversation and law. Often described in unison, digital signatures and electronic signatures individually are different technologies, have different meanings, and they carry different legal weight.

So what exactly is the difference then? Let’s demystify this once and for all…

Electronic signatures: The superficial sign

Also referred to as an “ordinary electronic signature”, an electronic signature is generally defined as “Symbols or other data in digital form (whether it be a sound, process or symbol) attached to an electronically transmitted document as verification of the sender’s intent to sign the document”.

There are many different scenarios here. An electronic signature can be as basic as a scanned image of a handwritten (wet-ink) signature that is copied onto a signed document, in Word for example. Another case of an electronic signature would be your name, typed at the end of an email.

An electronic signature can even be verbal, a simple click of a box, or drawn on a hardware device such as a signature pad.

Given the examples above, it is evident that, by the sheer nature of electronic signatures, these types of signatures are difficult to maintain, and proof of identity, security, authentication and integrity is low.

Electronic signatures do not have the ability to lock documents for editing after the signing process, nor do they carry any active verification capability. This leaves documents signed with electronic signatures wide open to fraud and repudiation.

Digital signatures: The cryptographic mark

As alluded to earlier, digital signatures involve cryptography. They are the most advanced and secure type of electronic signature, and they guarantee the contents of a message or document have not been altered in transit.

A digital signature is also referred to as an advanced or secure electronic signature. It is based on Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology, using accredited personal X.509 digital certificates to provide the highest levels of security and universal acceptance.

These electronic signatures on steroids are created using a cryptographic operation that creates a hash-code unique to both the signer and the content, so that it cannot be copied, forged or tampered with.

This process provides strong proof of the signer’s identity, protects the data integrity of the document and provides absolute non-repudiation of signed documents.

Digital signatures can be verified without the need for any special proprietary software. Depending on the document format, the latest versions of free Adobe Reader or Microsoft Office application can verify the signature. Simply click directly on the digital signature to view the properties, signer’s identity, time and reason for signing – all of which are embedded in the document.

When a digital signature is applied to a document, a digital certificate is attached to the data being signed into one unique fingerprint, including cryptographic credentials.

That said, it is obvious digital signatures would carry far more legal weight and be preferable should security be even a slight concern.

In a nutshell, you could say electronic signatures verify documents, whereas digital signatures secure documents.

* SigniFlow only utilises Digital signature technology. Every signature on a document signed with SigniFlow is a Digital signature that carries the unique cryptographic credentials of the signer.

[REFERENCES]  

  1. za – Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, 2002
  2. Michalsons – Guide to the ECT Act in South Africa
  3. Difference Between – http://www.differencebetween.net/technology/difference-between-digital-signature-and-electronic-signature/