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News November 24, 2016

How would a shared global ledger for e-invoice addresses work?

Together with the other Nordic countries, Finland is amongst the world leaders in the digitalization of the invoice traffic between companies. Worldwide, the market penetration of B2B e-invoices is assumed to be around 10%, whereas in the Nordic countries the corresponding figure is already getting to be near 50%. The e-invoice market is growing rapidly. The European E-Invoicing Service Providers Association (EESPA) reported growth of as much as 27% in the market in September this year. The digitalization and automation of financial management processes and the software robotics associated with these are key drivers in this. On the other hand, regulation and the actions of public administration, which are strongly directing companies towards the use of e-invoices, are also behind the development.

The sender of an e-invoice has to have a reliable digital delivery address for the recipient of the invoice. The
further the processes from procurement to payment are digitalized and automated, the more important it
becomes that the information about the recipient of the invoice behind the digital delivery addresses, as
well as about its sender, is reliable and up to date. This requires that the processes associated with the
updating and upkeep of the address details of companies have to be absolutely reliable and that
authorizations and identity management around this information have to work. Globalization and the
fragmentation of value chains are bringing their own challenges to the management of addresses. In

Europe these challenges are being sought to be solved with the aid of EU-level standards such as PEPPOL.
In Finland, the address needs of e-invoicing have already been served for a long time by a centralized einvoice
address book of the Information Society Development Center, TIEKE – a non-profit organization
which has carried out important pioneering work in the field of e-invoicing. However, the aforementioned
and rapidly accelerating development require that the technology used in national central e-invoicing
address books or single-operator CRM:s needs to change.

An attempt to build a new kind of organizationally distributed but logically centralized shared ledger of einvoicing addresses has now been started in Finland. The objective is to deliver a first early version of a
distributed e-invoice address book in December 2016. A significant group of operators in e-invoicing is involved in the project: Leading European B2B business integrators – such as Tieto, Enfo, Basware and OpusCapita; of the banks the OP, Nordea, Danske Bank and the s.k. Samlink –group of Finnish Savings banks as well as the LähiTapiola insurance company are in. In addition, the consortium includes such government agencies as The Finnish Tax Authority, the Finnish Business Registry, The Government Services for Finance and HR in Finland Palkeet. The SME side has been covered by the Association of Finnish Accounting Firms. Furthermore, the payment processor Nets is also involved. The Federation of Finnish Financial Services is acting as the facilitator of the project. Nordledger (nordledger.com) Blockchain Design Studio is responsible for the design and coding in the project.