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Join us to discuss the major topic of "SMEs and Private Sector onboarding" and co-create the future of eInvoicing.  

Follwoing the CEF eInvoicing Open Session on 24 November, we warmly invite you to continue sharing your projects, concrete actions, practical use cases related to onboarding activities, in your country. 

We look forward to reading your comments and engage in lively discussions with you

How to contribute?

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Many thanks to Cyrille Sautereau, Georg Birgisson, Ger Clancy, Dolf Kars and Tom Blight for your contribution after the June CEF eInvoicing Open Session! We duly considered your inputs."

eInvoicing Team

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  1. Dear all,

    As a start, I propose to share some feedback on the French situation on B2G where a lot of SMEs have to send invoices to public entities, which gives an idea on SME onboarding on the sending side.

    As you know, France has implemented an obligation to send e-invoices to the public sector. 2020 is the last year of this roll out, which means that any invoice sent to the public sector must be electronic after 2020. It also has to be sent through a National Platform, named ChorusPro which is delivering the invoices to the right Public entity.

    On beginning of September, 746 000 private entities have sent more than 127 millions invoices to 132 000 public entities through ChorusPro since 2017.

    On the first 8 months of 2020, SMEs, representing 93,1% of the senders, have sent 38% of the B2G invoices (33% for Intermediate sized companies representing 4,2% of the senders and 29% for large companies representing 2,7% of the senders).

    It is then interesting to see how privates entities are sending invoices, and in what format.

    First, it is important to know that ChorusPro proposes 3 kinds of invoice formats and 3 kinds of channels:

    Invoice format:

    • Full structured, UBL ChorusPro (as Chorus Pro was designed and launched before the publication of the EN16931. It is at the same time a kind of CIUS (not all EN16931 fields) and an Extension, as some additional business terms are necessary for specific business cases), and EN16931 UBL and UN/CEFACT CII.
    • Native Hybrid invoice : which is either a full and mainly partial XML (UBL) invoice with a pdf invoice embedded, signed or not, or a Factur-x (PDF with EN16931 UNCFACT CII XML profile attached)
    • Manual hybrid invoices, which are pdf invoices uploaded manually on the ChorusPro Portal, whith a set of invoice data extracted from the pdf and completed and approved by the sender. The result is then a PDF invoice with a partial set of invoice data provided by the sender, which is alos an hybrid invoice (MINIMUM Profile).

    Globally, it is also what any large buyer proposes to get the more invoices from its suppliers (a private format from a platform, potentially EN16931 syntaxes, hybrid invoices (PDF & XML together), and PDF upload on a platform or sent by email, with data extraction secured with data completion and validation made by the sender (increasing) or the buyer.



    • EDI connection, in AS2, mainly with Service Providers and some large companies : 300 connections
    • API which can be used by a lot of applications, not only to send and receive e-invoices, but also to get some information on the invoice process (statuses). 94 services are used by 4 900 partners conencted, for 13 millions calls per day.
    • Portal access, used to follow the invoice process “on line”, and mainly for Manual Hybrid invoices for SMEs (and less than 3% invoices, decreasing, which are key in manually)


    For the first 8 months of 2020, 40% of invoices sent by the private sector where full structured (mainly UBL ChorusPro, and with 2,5% coming from Manual key in on the Portal), 28% where “Native Hybrid” (mainly “minimum profile ChorusPro” on UBL and Factur-x progressing), and 32% “Manual Hybrid” invoices.


    When we focus on SMEs, the full structured invoices are only a few percent, Native Hybrid represents 25% and manual hybrid around 70%.  The high level of Manual Hybrid invoices is certainly due to a small number of invoices to be sent by each SME, and should be transformed at least in Native Hybrid or full structured when volumes will increase with B2B mandate.

    It is also interesting to see that Hybrid invoices (mainly native) represents around 30% of the invoices sent by large companies and more than 50% of invoices sent by Intermediate size companies.

    As a conclusion, we do think that a Mandate to send is key to reach rapidly 100% of e-invoices on B2B.

    However, it cannot be done reasonably with only a full structured format, first because a lot of companies, and especially SMEs, are not able to provide easily such e-invoices, and secund because it is also difficult to address all business cases with a core  structured invoice. In addition, it is not reasonable also to consider that an invoicing process will be always full automatic. Depending on the receiver and of the matching of the invoice with delivery /order / contract, invoice human readability and richness is also necessary for manual processes.

    Then, there is a need for flexibility on both sides (hybrid for SMEs AND Extension for EN16931 to address all kind of business cases in a full structured format):

    • with a minimum set of data dedicated to process automation and fiscal controls,
    • a capability to add more invoice information in a structured form (for instance through progressive profiles, including an extended one)
    • and the possibility to mix with a full readable view for users and controllers, when structured data available are not sufficient for a full invoice process (litigation for instance).

    Additionnaly, we think that this experience shows also:

    • The importance of Invoice Process Statuses Sharing, which is key for suppliers, starting with “trusted dates” of invoice exchange, a good reference for payment delay.
    • The success of API, which can be implemented by many applications or information systems for a better integration.


  2. We made a follow-up video to share the DigiCrowd* results of the last 6 months: 

    (english/french subs available in video options)

    We notice that e-invoicing in Belgium starts to gain traction thanks to the collaboration between 'competing' PEPPOL Access Points. 
    The shift is slowly happening, but a legislative push would definitely accelerate this process. 

    In the meanwhile we - together with our partners - continue to 'evangelise' in order to build the DigiCrowd network. 

    *DigiCrowd: consortium which actively promotes e-invoicing in Belgium. 

    1. Thanks, Tom Blightfor this comment and the video! Numbers are encouraging! Maybe serge LIBERTcould have a say on this and the HERMES project? The importance of Service Providers is a point also shared by Georg BIRGISSON

      Please, do not hesitate to share this page among DigiCrowd community members! 

      1. Digicrowd is one of the many initiatives to energize Belgian Landscape. BOSA DT is of course pleased of the alignment in strategies of different stakeholders in the Belgian landscape. We have been working hard with all of them over the past 7 years on aligning government, private sectors (large enterprises and SMEs), accountants and the IT sector. There is still a long way to go but Jurgen's figures are encouraging. Flemish Government e-Invoicing cell and VOKA organize talkshows (COVID-proof:-) and give the floor to a wide audience and this wide audience takes the opportunity, this is very good too. 

        BOSA trusts that hermes will also contribute. By bringing all companies within reach of senders (in Belgium), and by offering a target communication channel, hermes is expected to be heavilly used by companies to streamline their outbound invoicing flows, and by their customers to identify and acquire suitable inbound invoicing tools. it will boost the market. We are also working together with Digicrowd initiative and other service providers to optimize the synergies .

        Lats but not least, this will significantly boost EN adoption!

    2. Very interesting numbers and I agree with the ideas that are expressed in the "shift" towards electronic invoices where service providers work together to build up the total volume. This will enable them to build services that are based on automation and volume rather than services that are based on labor intensive handling of invoices. It is also positive to hear that this initiative is takes into considerations the accountants. That is an industry that I believe can benefit greatly from electronic invoicing. Not the opposite as sometimes seems to be their concern. An accountant can operate the system for the receiver and receive all invoices electronically and consequently handle all the booking of the invoices at low cost to his customer. As example this will then allow him to offer new services to the SME's like a closer to real time status of his finances, alerts when there are issues in the cash flow and significantly more detailed analysis and reporting on costs in the SME's business. A service that would be of more value to the SME than paying for manual entry and reading of invoices weeks or months later.

      1. Thank you Georg BIRGISSON ! When it comes to Service Providers, we can also mention EESPA and Charles BRYANTacting as the Secretary-General of the association. Charles, would you have a view to share on the topic?  

  3. It is good to see the solid progress in France, and I agree that a mandate, with clear, specific guidance and communications to the market (both buyers and sellers) is the logical next step to drive a wider adoption.

    Belgium is making great progress in lowering the barriers also.

    To get to 100%, definitely a 1 size approach will not fit.  Therefore as much as a 100% automation is maybe not feasible in every case, I believe neither is trying to drive processes and expand hybrid usage into B2B, where automation should be the driving factor.

    I see the key factors as sophistication of the respective users and volume of documents being handled.

    For an SME, who does everything manually themselves, or microbusinesses, I can see how can hybrid help their use case, as they are driven by themselves needing to manage what they are outputting in a Human Readable fashion, while their recipient can ingest either Human Readable or Structured Data, although the method of delivery
    Likewise they will need to handle Inbound data as Human Readable, and the likelihood of them using structured data inbound is probably low.

    The transport method in both cases is likely to be email, or some kind of manual upload outbound.

    So for my view, SME has possible hybrid benefit on outbound, less so on Inbound side

    For Businesses trading with SMEs, and receiving pdf by email today, they are probabably using OCR and want to get to automationwho are processing invoices in volume, and to recipients, while they might find a charm in having hybrid, the fact remains that

  4. Every step forward in the journey to mass-market adoption of e-invoicing is very welcome. This in turn has the potential to lead to greater economic efficiencies as part of the continued transformation of business practice in Europe for public and private sectors. European SMEs will find it increasingly easier to serve the public sector and grow beyond their national borders.

    As can be seen from the leadership of individual member states, political determination combined with a responsive marketplace is a very potent force albeit mostly on a national level. The Commission can accelerate transnational adoption whilst ensuring no one gets left behind.

  5. I come from Romania, a country with virtually zero electronic invoicing, thus no legacy systems either. I have a strong IT background and experience in standardization ( at CEN in eInvoicing and eProcurement and in our NSO) and I have been supporting both our central institutions and our IT industry ( DSPs) to get aware, educated and willing in implementing e-invoicing in our country. It was and it still is a tough process. We had many talks with the SMEs as well. We are still in the starting blocks of our journey.  We are designing an associative approach between the DSPs, together with our government, in order to drive the adoption of electronic invoicing. 

    From what I’ve perceived by engaging the stakeholders and the SMEs, I think that the adoption requires several important factors:

    • Coherent, evolving and supportive public policy and national regulation framework, guided by a clear and well-communicated long term strategy and by a public-private partnership both for the education and also for the actual technical implementation of supporting systems
    • Low to zero entry barrier, technical and financial. Any additional effort, cost or requirement to change without immediately visible benefit will backfire, especially among the microenterprises. Ideally, sending and receiving electronic invoices should bring zero additional costs and should not require the usage of multiple systems
    • Direct incentivisation of the adopters before actually enforcing an e-invoicing mandate. “Volunteers”, pioneers, the disciplined ones among the SMEs, should be rewarded by the government. Possible measures could range from prioritized reimbursement of VAT, 10% tax deduction on certain categories, 15 days grace period to the taxpaying term etc. Alone, enforcement will be inefficient, will provoke resentment and reluctancy and many will follow it only out of fear and with the longest possible delay.

    And ideally, I would add two more points:

    • There should be only one way of doing it. When there are multiple variants to choose from, there is also the difficulty to decide and the tendency to postpone, as well as added costs in changing from one way to another. From my point of view, there is only one way of e-invoicing. It is the EN one. To reach a mass adoption at the European level, we need to make decisive steps in getting rid of legacy and reducing our national exceptionally. This requires political will, not just technical support. 
    • Associative action of DSPs, that should run orchestrated campaigns to create awareness and educate the market ( SMEs in particular)

    I am looking forward to the evolution fo this discussion and I am very interested to establish a direct dialogue with the peers from other countries, to directly exchange experience and ideas on how we can make things better, faster.

  6. Irish Government recommendations to its public sector bodies were to achieve timely compliance with the e-invoicing directive (2014/55/EU) using Peppol networking services and then to adopt strategies to grow e-invoicing.

    However, private sector participation was not explicitly encouraged through government mandate.

    As an approved service provider, Celtrino played a key role in assisting Irish public sector bodies achieve compliance with the e-invoicing directive. The Celtrino cloud based service is a multi-tenanted e-document management portal incorporating the CEF e-invoicing and AS4 building blocks and the Peppol Access Point and SMP services. Both EN 16931 Peppol and CII e-invoices are supported including transformation between syntaxes and on-screen visualisation. Long term document archiving was also provided.

    In working with the public sector bodies, Celtrino learnt individual needs were different. The preparation for supplier on-boarding required new workflows and IT systems integration.

    The Celtrino “Peppol Connect” e-document management portal was extended for buyers to include:

    • A number of off the shelf e-invoice approval workflows
    • Payload transformation to suit accounting system formats
    • Integration with popular accounting systems
    • Secure AS4 connectivity

    To facilitate supplier on-boarding by public sector bodies, Celtrino developed a “Community Builder” tool to initiate and manage supplier e-invoice on-boarding.

    To assist suppliers with sending e-invoices to any European public sector body, Celtrino extended its supplier access point in a number of ways:

    • Integration with popular accounting systems
    • Payload transformation from accounting system formats
    • Capture and conversion of PDF invoices to EN format e-invoices for onward routing
    • An online “Create Invoice” application to create and send invoices/credit notes. The application minimises the effort for the supplier by highlighting the fields required by their specific public sector customer
    • Capture and display of an electronic order from any public sector customer with a one click conversion to a compliant e-invoice
    • Secure AS4 connectivity

    With the e-invoicing infrastructure now fully in place, relatively modest strategic government intervention can drive SME participation in the transformation of the European digital business landscape.

  7. thanks, everyone for attending the session today! The slides and recording are now available here! You could enjoy the presentation and hear about onboarding from Lars EngbergCharles BRYANTDaniel HOMORODEANBojan MijuskovicJurgen Soetaertand Christian Vindinge RASMUSSEN, as the CEF eInvoicing expert! 

  8. Hello everyone! this message is for the open session participants! Here is the link to the satisfaction survey: 

    Please, feel free to share your feedback, opinions and suggestions for the next online events! Thanks!