The Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) aims to develop a vibrant, world class infocomm media sector that drives the economy, connects people, bonds communities and powers Singapore’s Smart Nation vision. IMDA achieves this through:
• Developing talent, strengthening business capabilities, and enhancing Singapore’s ICT and media infrastructure
• Regulating the telecommunications and media sectors to safeguard consumer interests while fostering a pro-business environment
• Safeguarding personal data of individuals and business owners through the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC)
E-Invoicing as Part of The Nation’s Digital Utility
IMDA spearheads the development of digital utilities as baseline infrastructure for the digital economy. As one such utility, E-invoicing (branded as InvoiceNow) aims to help Singapore businesses move away from manual invoicing, with fragmented single-sided non-interoperable solutions.
Benefits of eInvoicing:
An e-invoice network can potentially serve hundreds of thousands of businesses in Singapore and around the region. At the start, we asked “How can we create a widespread network, such as email, for Business-to-Business financial document exchange?”.
IMDA adopted the Peppol framework as it allows direct transmission of einvoices from one finance system to another finance system without human intervention. Peppol framework operates on an open network and thus is not limited by the accounting or invoicing package you choose, or the country you live in. A key concept of Peppol is “connect to one – connect to all”. Once you are connected to one Peppol Access Point, you are connected to all Access Points on the network, both domestically and internationally.
What Peppol does for Singapore
• Market enabler for interoperable eProcurement solutions
• Facilitates standards-based end-to-end electronic procurement processes
• Agreement framework for network trust, governance and compliance that enables multilateral cross-border interoperability
• Governance through a member-based non-profit organisation
• Enables a significant simplification and improvement of the on-boarding process
• Supports buyers and sellers to trade electronically
Our Building Blocks in Implementing Peppol
There were many strategic and tactical decisions that were required at various juncture of the initiative. Below are some of the key ones. IMDA started a project office to drive these activities.
Programme Ownership & Government Structure
As the government agency driving digital transformation of the economy, IMDA took on the role of programme owner and set up the E-Invoicing Project Office in 2018 to implement the Nationwide E-Invoicing Network (now referred to as InvoiceNow) to help businesses improve efficiency, reduce cost, enjoy faster payment, and stay green at the same time.
It was imperative that IMDA’s project office worked in collaboration with various internal and external stakeholders right from the start in opening doors, leveraging capabilities and designing new levers to drive adoption. Internal stakeholders include other partnering agencies in the economic, tax and finance departments. External stakeholders are industry supporters from enterprises, service providers and associations.
Becoming Peppol Authority
IMDA became the Peppol Authority in Singapore in May 2018 and is responsible for approving and certifying Peppol Access Point Providers in Singapore. As the Peppol Authority, IMDA take the responsibility of specifying country specific rules and technical standards under the Peppol framework. To create a complete ecosystem of providers, IMDA also accredits Peppol-Ready Solution Providers (PRSP).
IMDA also governs the compliance and promotes the adoption of Peppol framework in Singapore.
As e-invoicing network continued to grow, IMDA recognised the need for a robust registration process to enhance the trust on the network and deliver a better end-to-end onboarding experience. In Nov 2021, IMDA introduced CorpPass KYC where new participant registrations will require an authenticity validation through CorpPass Access Point authorisation.
Benefits of CorpPass KYC:
• Ability to validate authenticity of participant being registered and reduce conflicts
• Streamlined onboarding process that creates efficiency for all stakeholders
• Enhance data integrity by eliminating erroneous letter of authorisations
The InvoiceNow Ecosystem is comprised of the Access Point Providers, PeppolReady Solution Providers and Service Metadata Publisher(SMP)serving a variety of business needs (divided between large/medium enterprises and small/micro enterprises) across the business community. Building Infrastructure Developing Ecosystem IMDA adopted a centralised Service Metadata Publisher model in Singapore and
has appointed Singapore Network Information Centre Pte Ltd (SGNIC) as the SMP provider in Singapore. The Access Point Providers connect solutions to the Peppol network for transfer of documents in Peppol format and are responsible for the registration of participant IDs in the SMP.
Peppol-Ready Solution Providers offers accounting/ERP solutions that are preconnected to the Peppol network so their customers can simply opt-in to register and transact on the Peppol network. The Peppol-Ready Solution Accreditation was created in 2019 and is a scheme to accredit solution providers who want to offer solutions to the market where businesses can send and receive e-invoices through the Peppol network. So far, there are over 150 Peppol-Ready Solution Providers in Singapore. IMDA conducts annual review and renewal with these Peppol-Ready Solution Providers.
Developing Strategic Levers/Go-To-Market Strategies
IMDA undertook various strategies and initiatives to increase e-invoicing adoption. Examples were through incentive programmes such as E-invoicing Registration Grant and Digital Resilience Bonus where it successfully created numerous opportunities to engage and register interested parties. Through the incentive programmes, we have seen significant growth in the number of businesses registered on the network.
IMDA also recognised that government participation was crucial to ensure an uptake in e-invoicing adoption. Therefore, at the start of 2020, the AccountantDeveloping Strategic Levers/Go-To-Market Strategies General’s Department (AGD) provided government vendors with an additional
channel to send e-invoices to the Government over the InvoiceNow network. Through the strong support from the Singapore Government, we have seen more government vendors registered on the network and we continue to see a steady growth in e-invoicing transaction volume with the Government. We are convinced that when more partners of the Government start transacting and benefitting from the network, it will create a network effect where more business partners start making the switch to InvoiceNow and experience the benefits of faster payments, smoother processes, and sustainable business practices for themselves.
In today’s digital world, adopting e-invoicing and embracing its benefits is essential for companies to tap new growth opportunities. Besides incentives programmes and government participation mentioned earlier, IMDA has also developed other customised outreach strategies with trade associations to drive adoption.
Peppol Adoption Timeline
In May 2018, IMDA became the first Peppol Authority in Asia and 45 Government agencies and private sector entities expressed support for this
nationwide e-invoicing initiative. Key steps that we have taken so far:
Operationalising the Peppol Authority
Q1 Announced the nationwide e-invoicing initiative
Q2 Established the Peppol Authority
Q3 Appointed the Service Metadata Provider
Q4 Prepared for Peppol network ‘Go Live’
Onboarding the Access Point Providers
Held industry workshop, supported by Peppol expert
Q3 Opened Access Point applications and set up the Access Point Community
Q4 Certified and Approved Access Points
Grew the local Access Point Community
Driving Early Adopters
Q2 – Q3 Leveraged trade associations and existing SME outreach programmes
Recruited large early adopters
Q4 Prepared platform providers (e.g., ERP) to connect to SMEs Continued onboarding of large businesses
Public Sector Engagement
Q2 – Q4 Engaged the centralised platform owners to enable Government inbound invoices
Engaged the various Government agencies to connect their outbound invoice platforms
E-invoicing Go Live
Q1 Launched the Nationwide E-Invoicing Network in Singapore on 9th January 2019
Developing Market Awareness
Q1 – Q3 Prepared information on e-invoice website
Q2 Carried out print advertising and organised seminars
Q2 – Q3 Organised roadshows and meetings with large enterprises
Q3 Carried out digital marketing and conducted monthly business briefings
Q2 – Q3 Helped large early adopters initiate project and test e-invoice exchange with their business partners
Pushed solution providers to get connected and on-board SMEs
Q1 Inbound invoicing for Singapore Government via Peppol went live providing suppliers to the Government another channel for e-invoicing the Government
Q2 E-Invoicing Registration Grant (ERG) was announced to incentivise businesses to join the network before 31 December
Q4 The Nationwide E-Invoicing Network was referred to as InvoiceNow
Q3 Three Singapore Government agencies, The Housing Development Board (HDB), Jurong Town Council (JTC) and Maritime Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) announced that they are connected to the InvoiceNow network and their customers can start receiving e-invoices from them
More programmes are being finalised to drive adoption
Enterprises across all sectors are beginning their journey to come on board the Peppol network as we continue to build cross-border acceptance with the Asia Pacific countries. IMDA strive to create test bed to explore new technology and new use cases. This initiative is one amongst many in support of Singapore’s growth in the booming digital economy.
E-Invoicing Project Office