Australia to roll out a national standard for e-invoicing

August 2016
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Australia could be running on a unified, national standard for electronic invoicing after a joint private-public council approved the final framework for implementation.

The standard is a result of a push by the Australian Tax Office, which jumped on similar efforts by the retail industry in 2015 and led the creation of the Digital Business Council.

The council is an industry-run joint body charged with building a national framework of standards for the processing of electronic invoices.

It followed the tax office’s commissioning of a report [pdf] into e-invoicing in 2015 which found a unified approach could save the economy as much as USD 10 billion per year, and up to USD 3 billion for government agencies alone.

But much needed to be done to boost the current rate of e-invoicing adoption in Australia from between 10 and 15 percent.

After months of consultation, a framework was approved by the council - which is made up of industry bodies, technology companies like MYOB and Xero, and government agencies - for introduction.

It dictates use of the ISO-approved OASIS universal business language (UBL) XML specification for messaging and eBMS 3.0 standard for transport (the same as used for the ATO’s SuperStream scheme).

The plan is to have full implementation available in software products like Xero and MYOB in 2017.

The government has not yet committed to rolling out the standards across the public sector, but did pledge funds in the recent federal budget for a scoping study to see whether it should adopt the framework, and how it would go about doing so.

The framework is not mandatory, meaning the Digital Business Council is relying on invoicing software vendors, banks, and others to implement the standards of their own accord.