A PDF invoice… e-invoicing or something else altogether? This topic has sparked many debates yet views are often mis-informed. We separate the myths from the facts…
Myth: There are both digital and electronic invoices
In reality there is a difference between electronic and digital. But this difference has often been misunderstood by many considering an e-invoice solution. Whereas ‘Electronic ‘is a legal term, ‘Digital’ is a manifestation of an electronic invoice. See the quote below which describes the distinction in relation to ‘signatures’:
“The legal term is ‘electronic signature ‘. A manifestation of an electronic signature is a digital signature…. A qualified digital certificate provides an advanced electronic signature: a signature which may be granted a great deal of legal guarantees…”
This distinction was never made with regard to e-invoices, and this is still the case today. In short: a digital invoice is an e-invoice and vice versa.
Fact: An invoice that is not carried by a paper medium is an electronic invoice
A PDF invoice is not carried by a paper medium and therefore it is an electronic invoice. See as an example the recent European e-invoice directive which states the following:
‘Electronic invoicing refers to the process of issuing, transmission, and reception of invoices in a structured electronic format which allows for their automatic and electronic processing.’
Fact: PDF and email are regarded as primary e-invoicing methods
Statistically PDF and e-mail have long been regarded as the primary means for e-invoicing throughout most of the business populations across the world.
Just imagine saying to those companies that the way they are e-invoicing isn’t really e-invoicing. Or that their method of e-invoicing’ is in fact a fake version of the real thing? Providing evidence to support this view is likely to be a struggle.
Fact: A PDF is created by a PDF printer
A printer can only generate output if the initial input has an existing structure. A PDF is a visual reference of structured information. Despite its clean, polished appearance, a PDF is built on top of structured data.
Myth: PDF invoices flag behind other e-invoicing technologies
Critics of PDF invoicing often argue that PDF invoices are less advanced than data formats such as UBL 2.0 … this is a myth. As a PDF document is a representation of structured data, it can therefore be used to import structured data.
There are many examples of e-invoicing that offer the ability to import/process PDF invoices directly into financial software. (Yes, it requires a few more mouse clicks than straight through processing but has anyone calculated the costs for SME’s yet?). There is a distinct lack of cost effective, high performance products (especially for SME’s) that can import PDFs directly into accounting software.
PDF invoicing isn’t getting the recognition it deserves. E-Invoicing can get far more technical, however the simplicity and ease of transition makes PDF invoicing an excellent starting point for companies making the change.
Could PDF invoicing be the solution for you?