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Containment boosts electronic invoicing in Belgium

Forced to work at a distance, many companies have taken advantage of this period to make the leap to electronic invoicing. Digitizing the accounts means turning these accounts into lines of code that can be directly read, interpreted and processed by software. This is where CodaBox comes in, a fintech company owned by Isabel Group, leader in converting to “coda”, one of the reference formats.

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The need to work remotely has encouraged many companies to move to digital accounting and take advantage of its benefits.

The containment imposed in Belgium since March 18th will have truly transformed the way the business world, in the broadest sense, works. “Companies – whatever their size – are required to organize telework for any function where it is possible, without exception. For those for whom this organization is not possible, social distancing will be scrupulously respected. If businesses cannot meet these obligations, they must close,” said the government rules.

Find out more details about the digitalization of invoicing in Belgium and read the latest financial headlines with our companion app. Born2Invest mobile app makes it easy for you to keep informed, to intuitively move from story to story, and from section to section. Our clean design lets you read articles without clutter, and use the app with no limits on how many articles you can view.

Companies are moving towards digital invoicing

Forced to work at a distance, many companies have taken advantage of this period to make the leap to electronic invoicing.

“At the beginning of the year, we had an average of around 400 companies accessing our services every week. During the lockdown, we were registering a thousand new customers a week,” said Tom Vanhoorne, managing director of Clearfacts, a fintech company owned by Isabel Group, which offers digital accounting solutions.

Of course, digital invoicing is not simply a matter of converting paper invoices to PDF. “Working in this way does not bring any benefits, it is not fundamentally different from traditional invoicing,” explained Tom Vanhoorne.

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Digitizing the accounts means turning these accounts into lines of code that can be directly read, interpreted, and processed by software. This is where CodaBox comes in, another fintech company owned by Isabel Group, leader in converting to “coda”, one of the reference formats. “Our activities have accelerated over the last two years, and this will continue to be the case for the next two years,” according to Marie Costers, Managing Director of CodaBox.

Saving time and money

Currently, only about 8% of invoices are completely electronic in Belgium, making it one of the worst in Europe. However, the advantages of this process are numerous. It saves a considerable amount of time, improves payment times, and reduces the number of errors. It is therefore a potential source of significant savings.

“The accountant has a much better view of the company’s situation and can anticipate liquidity problems much more quickly.”

The Flemish regional authorities thus paid ‘only’ $2.4 million (€2.1 million) in 2019 in interest for late payment. In 2015, this amount was still $5.7 million (€5 million). At the moment, almost two-thirds of the Flemish administration’s accounts are electronic.

In the current economic crisis, electronic accounting is proving useful for companies. “The accountant has a much better view of the company’s situation and can anticipate liquidity problems much more quickly,” said Marie Costers. “Our number of clients has increased, but it is mainly companies that have decided to accelerate this transition,” she added, with other firms remaining sceptical.

However, Belgium will not see all its invoices become electronic for several years, although Finance Minister Alexander De Croo is a strong supporter of the system.

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(Featured image by JerzyGorecki via Pixabay)

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First published in L’Echo, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.

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Valerie Harrison is a mom of two who likes reporting about the world of finance. She learned about the value of investing at a young age upon taking over her family's textile business when she was just a teenager. Valerie's passion for writing can be traced back to working with an editorial team at her corporate job, where she spent significant time working on market analysis and stock market predictions. Her portfolio includes real estate funds, government bonds, and equities in emerging markets such as cannabis, artificial intelligence, and cryptocurrencies.