Singapore adopts EU e-invoice standard

Singapore is seeking to adopt a nationwide, interoperable electronic invoicing framework based on the PEPPOL system, which is currently used by 19 European countries such as Britain, Germany and Norway.

The announcement from Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) will make Singapore the first nation in Asia to implement the Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line (PEPPOL) e-invoicing standard.

Some 45 public and private sector organisations, including the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and OCBC Bank, have reportedly expressed interest in using the system.

That is a preferred mode compared to digitised invoices, which include those in PDF or Microsoft Word formats, as they require “some level of human input to process”, said the IMDA.

IMDA has joined PEPPOL as the first PEPPOL authority outside of Europe, a role that involves being able to set national rules and specifications that meet Singapore’s domestic requirements, as well as appoint and certify Service Metadata Publishers (SMP) (colloquially called the address book) and Access Point (AP) providers. IMDA will also ensure conformance to the PEPPOL technical and service standards.

The PEPPOL is an open standard which enables the exchange of standardised machine-readable documents over its network. Within the PEPPOL e-invoicing network, companies that wish to adopt e-invoicing must subscribe to an Access Point (AP) Provider of their choice. Then, companies can send their e-invoices to their AP Provider, which checks and verifies the receiving of the company’s PEPPOL address through the Service Metadata Publisher (SMP). The AP Provider then sends the document to the relevant receiving AP Provider, and then to the receiving party.

The Singapore Accountant General’s Department (AGD) will be working with IMDA to integrate Vendors@Gov into the nationwide e-invoicing framework.

AGD and IMDA will also be looking at how government procurement processes in conjunction with PEPPOL standards can be used to drive industry adoption of other common business messages.