NEC eyes B2B invoice, payments sector

NEC launched an Australian-designed B2B Internet-based invoice presentment and payment solution today.

The solution, i-Invoice (for Internet Invoice) provides online invoice presentment and payment, and incorporates standard business accounts payable processes such as approval and dispute procedures. Paul Grady, general manager, e-business, NEC Business Solutions, said i-Invoice is a managed application hosted in NEC Business Solution's secure data centre, and backed up by a disaster recovery site. It features high-level security and encryption on all data transfers and supports both credit card and customer-initiated direct debit options and interoperates with all banks. The solution differs from traditional electronic bill presentment and payment products, Grady said, as it is specifically designed for B2B use. It incorporates processes for invoice approval, dispute procedures, separation of invoice viewing and payment, adjustable outstanding balance and interactive process. The solution includes access controls over staff payment ability where staff have access to the company bank account to pay specific bills, limiting other transactions or bill payments.

With debt recovery a massive issue for businesses, electronic invoicing and payment offers significant opportunities for businesses to reduce their invoicing costs, Grady said.

Companies that issue a high volume of invoices to other businesses each month stand to make considerable savings even where the value of individual transactions is small, he said. "We are already seeing strong interest from the distribution, manufacturing and wholesale industries, which stand to reduce invoicing and accounts receivable costs by as much as 65 per cent with i-Invoice." He said four companies are piloting the solution now.

According to Grady, organisations issuing more than 500 invoices to other businesses a month should seriously consider the potential savings of Internet-based invoicing and payment.

He said i-Invoice is a low-cost entry solution for a problem that organisations already have.

"Instead of an IT manager considering whether to put in new people or a new infrastructure, we do it in a cost effective way," Grady said. Pricing is on a per-transaction basis and also depends on what level of services and integration the customer wants.

"It is a pay-per-use basis, like making phone calls, and could be as little as $1 a transaction."

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