E-Invoicing in the spotlight

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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

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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

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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.

Electronic vs Digital Signatures: Defining the Difference

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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/

DocFlow: Bridging the document automation gap

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G10167-MSSigniFlow now integrates a document management and process automation tool that seamlessly manages business processes, from A to Z.

Document management is without doubt one of the most important functions in a business, regardless of its size. In many ways, document management is the heartbeat of an organisation – the foundation upon which many other functions are built, and that enables a company to run smoothly.

Despite this, many organisations struggle to adequately manage this core of their business, which is heavily reliant on efficient, traceable business processes and corresponding archives.

This is where DocFlow – a powerful combination of document management and process automation systems – comes in. Created by SigniFlow engineers, DocFlow is an integrated extension to SigniFlow workflows, which seamlessly manages the automation of business processes, from A to Z.

Released in 2018,  DocFlow is set to become an indispensable component of businesses’ process and document management in the coming years.

The creation of DocFlow comes in the wake of the discovery of a gap in the document management space. SigniFlow found that a number of clients were in serious need of auxiliary functions, such as meta matching through barcode scanning, barcode decryption, auto filing, and managing physical artefacts that lacked electronic artefacts. Following painstaking research and design by the SigniFlow team, we are now able to bridge this gap.

How DocFlow works

As an extension of SigniFlow, DocFlow works by allowing business owners to create input and output rule-based folders, following the mapping of a business process, to manage the flow of data and documents from the initial input, to the ultimate archiving destination.

Based on pre-configured process workflow rules and security-based user roles, DocFlow manages the workflow of all business documents, through automated and controlled digital processes.

DocFlow utilises the SigniFlow workflow and digital signature signing capabilities to ensure processes that require documents to be signed can be automated, while processes remain fully digital at all times.

DocFlow also allows businesses to link physical paper documents kept in filing rooms or cabinets, or at branches, to digital records using structured file plans – as well as to manage physical documents that are in transit, ensuring that what is sent from a location, is exactly what arrives at the intended destination.

An essential for businesses of any size, document management has never been so secure and failsafe.

As of Q1 2019, this powerful new tool will be available for all SigniFlow customers at no additional licence costs, with a basic setup for document archiving.

For more information on DocFlow and what it can do for you and your business, contact the team via support@signiflow.com  or phone:

South Africa : (+27) 10 300 4898

Americas: (+1) 603 717 4248

Europe: (+32) 494 102 095

Introducing the most powerful consumer signing tool in the world

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happy-computer-woman logoThe SigniFlow team has come up with a sophisticated and secure – yet simple and easy to use – consumer signing tool, set to revolutionise the digital signature market in 2019

When our clients – and the market they serve – speak, we listen. Carefully. So when a number of SigniFlow clients, who serve private customers from all walks of life, told us they needed an uncomplicated signing tool that could be used by anyone, anywhere and on any device – without security ever being jeopardised – we put our heads together and came up with what we have dubbed EasiSign.

Simple and unassuming by name, EasiSign is by no means that at the core. On the contrary, EasiSign is the most powerful consumer signing tool yet. Paradoxically, our latest consumer signing tool is something so intricate and sophisticated, something so watertight and secure on the inside, yet on the surface – for the end user – a simple, clean and uncluttered, easy-to-use interface.

Currently in Q4 2018, EasiSign is only available to customers with existing, or new, SigniFlow Hybrid Server licences. EasiSign is set to officially be launched into the SigniFlow technology stack during Q1 of 2019.

This revolutionary consumer signing tool will essentially replace the existing signing interface when SigniFlow Version 4 is launched during Q2 2019. Don’t get us wrong – the current interface in SigniFlow Version 3.3 is a great business process tool – but we have learnt that for private consumers, especially in the lower LSM groups, signing documents electronically can be overwhelming.

EasiSign eliminates complexity entirely. It is fast and very easy to use, on any device. Best of all – you can rest assured that security and authentication will never be compromised.

The A, B, C of EasiSign

With EasiSign, the authentication configuration can be set by each customer, and on a document level.  Authentication methods include any one, or a combination of, any of the following options: full registration, ID number verification and input matching, SMS One Time Pin (OTP), USSD OTP, password and email verification.

EasiSign is mostly driven by API integration with document composition systems or enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs) in the background producing the documents, and triggering the SigniFlow EasiSign workflow.

The new interface features a multi-document portfolio environment that simulates attachments to an email, and can group multiple documents together – which are then presented to the signer as a single document, for easy reading.

EasiSign also features a secured document upload portal, through which the sender (workflow creator) can request that the signer upload additional documents (such as proof of residence, identity documents, etc) when signing.

A great tool for carrying out FICA processes, EasiSign also has huge advantages in terms of the POPI Act, which calls for stringent private information protection.

EasiSign is included free of charge with any SigniFlow licence and, as always, there are no costs involved for the consumer, who can sign in EasiSign using their free SignFREE licence.

Existing Hybrid Server customers that wish to switch to EasiSign, can do so without any cost implications.

For more information on our awesome new consumer signing tool, contact the team via support@signiflow.com  or phone:

South Africa : (+27) 10 300 4898

Americas: (+1) 603 717 4248

Europe: (+32) 494 102 095

SignFlow broadens horizons, rebrands as SigniFlow

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SignFlow rebrandWe have spread our wings and taken to international shores…introducing our new, fresh look.

As a South African technology team with a spirit of innovation at the heart of our being, change and growth are two things we at SignFlow prize very highly.

Which is why we are so excited to announce that SignFlow has spread its wings, recently journeying beyond the African continent, into Europe, the United Kingdom and the Americas.

As an embodiment of this globalisation, we have decided to consolidate our local and international branding, which goes hand in hand with a fresh new look – including an awesome new website and epic new logo…

Introducing SigniFlow

The international offering of SignFlow (.co.za) is called SigniFlow (.com), which – as of May 2018 – is officially the successor to SignFlow.

While all old and existing marketing and training material and other content will still be branded as SignFlow – along with the old logo and look – it all remains 100% relevant.

SignFlow has been around for a few years, having made indelible footprints in cyber space, so the transition to SigniFlow is going to take some time. Our focus right now is on all of our branding going forward, so all new material and content will be branded SigniFlow.

What does this mean for you?

Well, to cite Coca-Cola, “Brand new look. Same great taste.”

SigniFlow, like SignFlow, is still the same world-class, local solution it has always been – just with a facelift. Think of it as a better looking version of the same great product.

SigniFlow is still Proudly South African. Nothing in terms of ownership of SignFlow has changed. SigniFlow – the new, fresh-faced SignFlow – is a 100% South African-owned product.

SigniFlow is also proudly protective of what matters most our customers: sensitive data. In terms of the storage of and access to your valuable files and data, fear not – this, too, remains unchanged. Your files are exactly where they were before, and still just as safe and secure as they have always been, in our South African data centres.

Finally, putting the cherry on top of this exciting transformation, the South African SigniFlow system is currently being revamped, and will be updated with the release of SigniFlow v4.0 during the third quarter of 2018.

Exciting times ahead, indeed. Onward and upward!

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or for more information on 010 300 4899 or support@signflow.co.za.