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Digital technology is everywhere – in the public and private sector alike. This technology is simplifying internal and external communications between customers, suppliers, and partners. With the right tools, companies possess an unparalleled level of security, which is essential considering the level of today’s cyberthreat.
As the needs of organizations for greater efficiency and security grows, legislation is also evolving to meet new digital requirements. The widespread use of electronic invoices in companies and public authorities is one of the main areas in which France and Europe as a whole have been working on over the past few years.
Public sector leading the way
Electronic invoicing for public tenders has been mandatory for large companies (more than 5000 employees) since January 17, 2019 and for mid-cap companies (250 to 5000 employees) since January 18. This obligation was extended to SMEs on the following day. Very small companies (fewer than 10 employees) will be affected from 2020.
Private sector catching up
In the private sector, on the other hand, the obligations are somewhat different, as they are not yet subject to these regulations. However, many of them are already aware of the benefits they can enjoy.
Simplifying processes and reducing costs
Electronic invoicing has a host of advantages within companies. First of all, it saves a considerable amount of paper and, in turn, space. Going paperless means saying goodbye to storerooms packed with invoices. According to the French government, the savings generated by the transition to paperless invoicing range from €3 to €4.50 per document. But it also drastically reduces invoice processing times.
“Studies show that accounting departments spend 30% of their time entering supplier invoices manually. Dematerializing invoices saves around 50 to 75%, compared to paper processing, reducing the cost of processing by around 30% […] The widespread use of electronic invoicing would therefore allow significant savings in company management costs,” the French government explained.
There are several ways to implement e-invoicing in a company or public administration:
- The reliable audit trail
- The Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) platform
- The electronic signature
But the third solution – the electronic signature – is generally considered the most accessible and economical. It’s a simple, effective, and secure.
Building trust in your communications
The electronic signature is a huge value-added tool. It improves team productivity and strengthens customer relations, while providing a reliable, secure process that complies with current legislation.
Thanks to the electronic signature, any company has the power to reinforce the legal value of the documents it produces. This means it can avoid the risk of disputes about their integrity or origin. So, businesses can issue electronic invoices with complete confidence. With the electronic signature, you can identify the signatory with certainty, and above all authenticate and guarantee the integrity of the document.
A strong need for support
Whether the goal is to meet new regulatory obligations, or simply to streamline processes that are sometimes demanding and restrictive, companies need support to start their dematerialization process. In a 2018 study, Universign revealed that 80% of companies surveyed would like to use electronic signatures. But they raise questions about good practices, mainly with regard to legal compliance. This is where the Trusted Third Party comes in – a service provider offering qualified and trusted services.
New legislation on electronic transactions
In July 2016, a European regulation known as eIDAS entered into force, aimed at increasing confidence in electronic transactions in the European market. It offers 3 levels of reliability and guarantee for electronic signatures: basic, advanced, and qualified (which covers invoices). This text also introduced a new legal concept at European level: the signature for a legal entity.
The electronic signature for legal entities
Before eIDAS, only people could sign electronically. Since July 2016, companies and public entities have also been able to sign documents on their behalf, which are admissible as evidence in court. And thanks to the electronic seal, it is possible to electronically seal documents such as invoices and certify their origin.
eIDAS makes a distinction between qualified and unqualified electronic seal services. Article 35 specifies that “a qualified electronic seal shall enjoy the presumption of integrity of the data and of correctness of the origin of that data to which the qualified electronic seal is linked.” In addition, when based on a qualified certificate issued in one Member State, this is recognized as a qualified electronic seal in all other Member States.
Electronic invoicing : sign securely on behalf of your company
To meet regulatory requirements and the needs of companies, CertEurope – a Trusted Third Party – issues electronic corporate certificates. The electronic seal allows you to sign on behalf of your company for any type of digital document, giving it irrefutable legal value. All PDF invoices can be sent and signed, simply and securely. The integrity and origin of documents sent by the company are guaranteed.
Among the components of an electronic signature is a digital fingerprint of the original document. It is permanently integrated into the document and any subsequent changes can be easily detected. As part of a qualified signature, which is needed to issue electronic invoices, a seal in the company’s name is attached to the document, electronically sealing its contents and certifying their origin.