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Real-time business transaction process is Estonia’s next big success story

24.10.2018 

The Internet of Business (IoB) Project initiated by ITL and e-invoice operators has set an important milestone in real time business transaction process and towards the integration of real time economy vision. According to ITL member of the board Seth Lackman, the have worked hard on RTE vision development and IoB project is a solid proof of its sustainability.

E-invoice operators Telema, Omniva, Tieto Estonia, Tieto Finland together with Estonian and Latvian unions have agreed on the basic principles and standards to automate the business transaction information process. IoB project has enabled Estonia to adopt a unified European e-invoice standard and join an international data exchange network PEPPOL. In addition, the project led a road to start using Estonian X-road as a platform for exchanging e-invoices. 

“IoB project has created Estonian companies a great starting point for adopting the automated business transaction process within the rest of the Europe,” introduced Seth Lackman. “Nordic countries and Estonia are the leading countries in e-invoice sector, but in order to keep that position, we need to increase our productivity. EU’s goal to adopt e-invoice as the main business transaction form by year 2020 requires ambitious goals and RTE vision definitely is an ambitious one.”

Estonia is definitely on the same course as Europe – nearly 90% of Estonian state institutions and local governments are already capable of processing e-invoices. Also a new law will soon take effect in Estonia that requires all business transactions in the public sector to be automatically processed.

Telema development manager Toomas Veersoo highly values Estonia’s ambition towards automated information and e-invoice process, which according to recent surveys is nearly six times more faster and up to 80% more cost efficient than regular PDF invoices. Veersoo said that according to calculations, fully adopting the e-invoice process in Estonian public sector saves up to 2,5 million euros a year. In addition, automating simple daily work tasks such as sending and receiving an invoice, will provide some relief to the increasing human resource problem in Estonia. 

The goal of the next IoB project is to extend the grip even further by involving in the process also economic software developers with whom to integrate EU standard e-invoice exchange capacities to all accounting software providers. The next IoB project will similarly to the first one, shares all its outcomes and materials with the public.

Additional information about cross-border e-invoice exchanging process and its opportunities can be retrieved from e-invoice operators or IoB project partners. In addition to Telema, Omniva and Tieto, PEPPOL network is soon adopted by Fitek, who has expressed its interest towards joining the IoB project. “The increasing number of partners joining the network is a solid proof that RTE economy vision has a clear future, which has even started a collaboration between the biggest competitors in the market,” said Tieto Estonia business development manager Kaido Heinsalu. 

Internet of Business project is co-financed by The Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) as part of the CEF Telecom eInvoicing 2016 program.

New e-invoice standard enables to step across the national border

05.07.2018

“Estonia as a digital country has made a significant step towards simplifying the cross-border e-invoice sending and receiving process,” said Tieto Estonia AS business development manager Kaido Heinsalu. “The European e-invoice standard adapted as part of the real-time economy project enables companies to transfer e-invoices more easily and cost-effectively than the e-invoice process on paper or in PDF format has ever been capable of.” E-invoice operators Omniva, Telema and Tieto Estonia, all part of the project, are already prepared to exchange e-invoices in accordance to the new standard. 

“Estonia has used its national e-invoice format for nearly 15 years, but we have reached a point where more and more cross-border transactions are being made that no longer are applicable to domestic formats,” explained Heinsalu. “It is no longer realistic for the companies operating in the European Union market to be deploying different national standards at the same time.” Single European e-invoice standard creates a clear regulation that enables e-invoice operating systems of the sender and receiver to exchange information without any distraction. According to Heinsalu, this is also the reason why the adaption of the single EU e-invoice format has such a significant importance.

Real-time economy (Internet of Business) project also focused on the adaption process among Estonian companies to be as smooth as possible. All the facilities using Omniva, Telema or Tieto services have already solved the problem as they have adapted the Estonian e-invoice according to the EU standards. “Companies, who are currently planning to adapt e-invoice system or are in the process of choosing the operator, should beforehand definitely pay close attention to the EU standard and its capabilities,” added Heinsalu.

The project also develops a connection with the Pan-European eProcurement network PEPPOL that simplifies the communication between e-invoice operators and creates more opportunities for companies to exchange e-invoices with their business partners cross-border. “This will create additional traffic on Estonian Information System X-tee, helping to increase the usage of e-invoices in the public sector and also simplifying the roaming between e-invoice operators,” explained Heinsalu. Thanks to the usage of X-tee, there is no need for the operators to create and manage expensive direct connections with one another. Developing a single EU e-invoice standard enables to cross national borders and meet the EU e-invoice directive no 2014/55/EL. “Estonian companies have a lot more influential arguments for e-invoice adaption, all thanks to the opportunities derived from these successful collaboration projects,” added Heinsalu.

Internet of Business project is co-financed by The Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) as part of the CEF Telecom eInvoicing 2016 program. Internet of Business project is coordinated by Estonian ICT Cluster. The project works on developing a secure and convenient environment for automated business transactions occurring in real-time economy.

Additional materials: Description of e-invoice, i.e. the specifications developed as part of the project, explains how to use Estonian e-invoice in accordance to European e-invoice standard.

2nd Borderless Real-Time Economy Round Table to take place in Helsinki

16.05.2018

The first RTE Round Table discussions held in February in Tallinn will continue in the beginning of next week in Helsinki. Round Table discussion topics lean on ongoing RTE activities and the goal of the event is to strengthen the Nordic-Baltic region’s position in RTE development and piloting.

The two-day RTE Round Table event takes place on Monday and Tuesday, May 21st to 22nd and will gather RTE experts from Nordic and Baltic countries. Event will also be attended by various Estonian RTE experts such as Margus Mägi (Head of Omniva’s Infologistics Business Area), Sirli Heinsoo (“Internet of Business” Project Manager from Estonian Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications), and Kaido Heinsalu and Andres Lille (Estonian representatives of international IT company Tieto). 

“Without borderless real-time economy concept, we would not be able to talk about automated business environment that consists of services such as e-signature, e-invoice or e-receipt,” said Reet Reismaa, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications Programme manager and Policy Area Innovation coordinator within EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. “Nordic and Baltic countries, including Estonia, have a strong potential to become the real-time economy experts in the world and the goal of the upcoming Round Table event is to through various workshops and thorough discussions to strengthen our leader position in the field of real-time economy,” added Reismaa.

The Round Table is organized by Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and DIMECC Ltd in close cooperation with Technology Industries of Finland, The Finnish Ministry of Finance, and projects DIGINNO, PACINNO and RTECO. 

Real Time Economy Program founder Bo Harald will introduce RTE concept in e-invoicing seminar

16.04.2018

On April 18th, an e-invoicing seminar will take place in Tallinn that will gather e-invoice users and specialists from the ICT sector to share their ideas and experiences and to find mutual solutions for the bottlenecks of e-invoicing.

“Adapting the e-invoicing system is one of the first steps in the transition to real-time economy accounting. For a year now, public sector institutions are obligated to accept e-invoices and our goal is to make e-invoicing between private and public sector a standard proceeding,” said Sander Aasna, manager of the ITL e-invoicing working group. 

E-invoicing seminar will include various activities. The speakers will compare the Estonian e-invoicing standard with European e-invoicing standard and give a detailed explanation of how the transition of both, national and cross-boarder e-invoicing system works. Participants will share their experiences and bottlenecks of e-invoicing and in collaboration with various accounting system providers, try to find mutual solutions on addressing these problems. The seminar will end with a discussion on the subject of digital archiving.

As Internet of Business project is an important part of Real Time Economy (RTE), the first part of the seminar will include a presentation by RTE so-called godfather Bob Harald, who gives a broader overview of the RTE concept. 

“Real Time Economy subjects are very important part during the next budgetary period of European Commission as the entire Europe is moving in the same direction. We hope the seminar will bring together everyone connected to e-invoicing, including daily e-invoice users, e-invoice service providers, developers and politicians,” said Aasna. 

Seminar is organized by the Estonian partners of Internet of Business project: ITL Digital Lab, Eesti Post AS (Omniva), Telema AS and Tieto Estonia AS in collaboration with international partners from Finland, Tieto Finland AS and from Latvia, Latvian Information and Communications Technology Association (LIKTA). Seminar will take place thanks to European Union co-financing, to the support of The Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) and as a part of “Internet of Business” project in Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) program.

National and cross-boarder e-invoicing seminar will take place on Wednesday, April 18th from 9.00-16.00 in Bliss building (Külluse saal, Mustamäe tee 17, Tallinn). 

Borderless Real-Time Economy (RTE) Round Table to discuss the future of RTE services

02.02.2018

On January 31 to February 1 2018 RTE Round Table event is taking place in Tallinn, where participants introduce the newest RTE projects in the sector and discuss the future of real-time economy system in the Baltics and Europe. Round table is organised by Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.

The two-day round table will bring together RTE experts from Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Denmark. One of the participants is also the so-called Grand Old Man of real-time economy concept and the creator of online banking in Finland, Bo Harald. “Real-time economy gives companies and countries more opportunities to manage their businesses and activities in an automated environment where all business transactions are completed in real time. The goal of the round table is to invite together any RTE related projects representatives to share their project findings and outcomes and to find similar interests,” said Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications Programme manager and Policy Area Innovation coordinator within EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region Reet Reismaa. 

Several important RTE projects in the Baltics are being introduced at the round table, such as Digital Innovation Network project DIGINNO, Estonian ICT Cluster’s initiated real-time economy project Internet of Business, Omniva’s e-receipt project, an automated data exchange project Nordic Smart Government, digital accounting and standardization program TALTIO and two Estonian Tax and Custom’s Board projects Reporting 3.0, and Tax Declaration as a Background Process and Business Account for Natural Person in collaboration with LHV bank. 

First day of the round table is taking place on Thursday, February 1st at 12PM, where all the main RTE projects are being presented. The second and final day of the round table is full of workshops and group discussions, and is taking place on Friday, February 2nd. The event will be held on both days in Tallinn Old Town, Teacher’s House Crown Hall (address Raekoja plats 14). Official language of the round table is English. 

RTE Round Table is organised by Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications in cooperation with Technology Industries of Finland, DIMECC Ltd. (Finland) and projects DIGINNO and IoB (Internet of Business), and is funded under PACINNO project by Interreg BSR programme 2014-2020. For registration please click here: http://bit.ly/2Ecnn3g

ITL: 100-year-old Estonia needs bold digitalization ambitions – 100% of invoices should be e-invoices

09.01.2018

Ivo Suursoo, Estonian Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications:
In near future, real-time economy, i.e. instant business transactions and digital invoicing, is a standard. Estonia has a strong image of e-country – our public sector is largely digitalized, but there is still room for improvement in private sector. According to European Digital Economy and Society Index DESI, Estonia is with 18,5% on the 12th place based on e-invoice usage, which is significantly less than e-invoice leaders Norway, Finland and Denmark, where the indicator is 60-70%. How to lead the digitalization in private sector on the same level as public sector with adapting e-invoice system? 

Public sector has had a great start

In terms of e-invoicing, public sector is the leading force also in the rest of the world. Great examples are Denmark, where e-invoicing has been mandatory in private sector since 2005, and Norway in 2011. Facilities, regularly active in documentation exchange and invoicing, are the first ones gaining from technology. By automating routine and low production job activities, every-day labour force could be used more productively. In addition, automatization leads to less mistakes being made.

To support the goal of Estonian Information Society Strategy 2014-2020, e-invoicing between public and private sector in Estonia should be fully adapted by year 2020. When speaking with various experts, some estimated the current e-invoicing usage to be around 20-25% in Estonia. If private sector were obligated to send solely e-invoices to public sector, the strategy’s goal would be achieved faster, and this would have a positive effect on the overall e-invoice usage. 

Innovation has many solutions also to private sector. Time equals money to all small-scale companies and real-time automatic e-invoicing helps to save on expenses. Another two keywords are credibility and transparency: e-invoicing is entirely observable where each activity is being recorded. There would be no debates about whether an invoice has been received by the other party or not.

Company’s cost savings could be significant

E-invoicing enables to speed up the communication between organizations, and that would ultimately increase the economic growth as the money moves significantly faster. According to Koch’s 2017 report, a company could save thanks to e-invoicing system and its processes around 60-80% of the expenses derived from invoices. Time that is saved from routinely activities could be directed into core business activities, such as sales and management. Here is an example: when we give 2 euros to a person for a routine activity, it is an expense. But when that person does not have to tackle the routine process, he could be able to turn this 2-euro expense into additional income of 4 euros. In this way, he invests his time into more productive activities and adds more value to the company via for example sales activities. 

When a small-scale company with a purpose to save on expenses, does not wish to adapt digital information exchange, it is wise to think even bigger – such as on digitalization of Estonian-wide digitalization that would open even more opportunities in the future. 

For one micro or small-scale company to start e-invoicing, it is necessary for them to adapt accounting software that generates e-invoices. It is also possible to use the country’s e-Financial software that works also as an accounting system.

E-invoices are being managed by e-invoice operator. Each company needs to choose and sign a contract with an e-invoice operator. Companies that still manage their invoices in Excel, should know that few e-invoice operators provide self-service portals for composing and uploading invoices. 

Estonian companies get to join European e-invoice network

Majority of companies do business with both local and foreign partners. It is therefore needed for the EU standards to be adapted in the systems of Estonian e-invoice operators. Estonian ICT Cluster has initiated an Internet of Business (IoB) project with a long-term vision to develop a secure and standardised network based on real-time economy concept. In Spring 2017, IoB project received funding from CEF 2016 Telecom: eInvoicing program that enables Estonian companies to join e-invoicing network PEPPOL starting from Summer 2018. 

Standards have already been adapted, and the starting position is solid. Now, it is time to take further steps to make entrepreneurs’ life even more convenient in order for Estonia to become the leading country of e-entrepreneurship. 

Estonian companies able to join European e-invoicing network

17.11.2017 

In summer  of 2018, Estonian e-invoice operators Eesti Post (Omniva), Telema AS and Tieto Estonia AS will start offering electronic invoicing service through the PEPPOL (Pan-European Public Procurement Online) network. On November 16th, a n introductiory cross-boarder electronic invoicing seminar takes place in Tallinn, where Internet of Business (IoB) project partners introduce the developments and future plans of e-invoicing adoption process in Estonia and neighbouring countries. 

IoB project, developing a safe and convenient electronic environment for business transactions, is coordinated by Estonian ICT Cluster. One of the project’s goals is to implement unified European Standards and connect Estonian service providers to an existing electronic document exchange network in Europe. “Most Estonian companies do business with not only local but also international partners. Joining the PEPPOL network significantly simplifies the cross-boarder electronic invoicing process for Estonian companies,” said one partner of the project, Telema AS CEO Hele Hammer. “Cross-boarder electronic invoicing creates an opportunity to save money and time in the entire supply chain.”

E-invoicing seminar introduces the benefits derived from joining the PEPPOL network to Estonian companies. The project’s partners in Latvia and Finland give an overview of the e-invoicing situation in corresponding countries. Other experts discuss cross-boarder e-invoicing challenges, opportunities and future plans in Estonia. The wider context of a real-time economy will also be introduced. Presentations by Estonian, Finnish and Latvian e-invoicing experts as well as European Commission representative Christian Vindinge Rasmussen will be given. Presentations are in Estonian and English.

Seminar is organized by the Estonian partners of Internet of Business project: ITL Digital Lab, Eesti Post AS (Omniva), Telema AS and Tieto Estonia AS in collaboration with international partners from Finland, Tieto Finland AS and from Latvia, Latvian Information and Communications Technology Association (LIKTA). Seminar Is organized as part of the Internet of Business  project in Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) program, cofinanced by the European Union and supported by the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA).
Seminar takes place on Thursday, November 16th from 10-16 in Swissotel Tallinn (Tartu auditorium, 6th floor). 

Additional information:
Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications: reet.reismaa@mkm.ee
Estonian Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications: sirli.heinsoo@itl.ee