E-invoicing: 4 Questions to Ask

Niek Dekker
3 Min

As Australia embarks on its post-pandemic economic recovery, the Government is focused on the opportunities presented by digitalisation.

Australia’s “Digital Economy Strategy” is a cornerstone of the 2021-2022 Federal Budget. It aims to deliver a modern digital economy to drive Australia’s future prosperity. A range of investments are planned that will underpin improvements in jobs, productivity and make Australia’s economy more resilient.

Boost for E-invoicing

One important initiative within the Digital Economy Strategy is a $15.3 million investment in raising awareness among SMEs of the value of e-invoicing. This builds on an earlier commitment to make e-invoicing mandatory for Australian Government agencies by July 2022.

According to the Australian Government:

“It is estimated that Australian businesses exchange over 1.2 billion invoices each year. Around 90 per cent of invoices remain labour-based, even though e‑invoicing can save both businesses up to $20 in cost savings per invoice. E-invoicing also improves payment times for businesses, particularly SMEs.”

With this funding, the Government is committing to:

  • Working with payment providers (for example, EFTPOS, Visa, Mastercard and New Payments Platform Australia) to integrate e-invoicing into the main payment methods used by business to help businesses get paid faster.
  • Launching educational activities to raise business awareness of e-invoicing.
  • Running supply chain pilots with large businesses to gain insights and drive adoption across supply chains.
  • Continuing to work with states and territories to extend public sector e-invoicing adoption.
  • Engaging in further consultation on potential regulatory and non-regulatory ways to accelerate e‑invoicing adoption.

E-invoicing: A step in the right direction

From a security perspective, e-invoicing represents a step in the right direction. It can make it harder for fraudsters to engage in the sorts of scams we have seen escalate in recent years, such as Business Email Compromise (BEC) and Vendor Email Compromise (VEC) attacks.

However, if there’s one thing we have learned about digital fraud, it is that scammers are always adapting their tactics to circumvent security layers. It would be a mistake to assume that with e-invoicing in place, you no longer face the risk of fraud.

In fact, the invoice represents just one attack vector for scammers.

More sophisticated hackers look for ways to breach your network or application layer. This can pave the way for them to manipulate data in your Vendor Master File or ERP system just before an EFT payment is processed.

Alternatively, people within your organisation who are authorised to access your systems may seek to engage in fraud by maliciously changing supplier banking information.

Therefore, whilst e-invoicing undoubtedly helps reduce the risk of fraud, on its own it isn’t enough. Every Accounts Payable (AP) team should still have a way to independently verify supplier banking details in real-time right as they are about to process an EFT payment.

Four questions to ask before paying e-invoices:

To reduce the risk of e-invoicing fraud, there are four important questions you should ask.

1- Is the supplier listed in the e-invoice legitimate?

Check that the supplier details on the e-invoice align with details in your Vendor Master File and ERP systems. Check that the supplier’s ABN is still valid and whether they are registered for GST.

2- Is the submitted e-invoice a duplicate?

Check payment records to make sure the supplier hasn’t already been paid.

3- Does the payment amount in the e-invoice align with the Purchase Order information?

Check Purchase Order (PO) records to ensure alignment. Verify that goods/services have been delivered as required.

4- Are the banking details correct?

Even with e-invoicing systems in place, scammers are still capable of manipulating supplier banking details and defrauding you.

Although e-invoicing does make life for fraudsters more challenging, you should not become complacent about the risks. Determined scammers will always look for ways to defraud you, even if you have e-invoicing in place.

By integrating eftsure into your environment, you have the ability to independently verify supplier banking information in real-time, right before your AP team processes an EFT payment. Whether you are using traditional invoices, or e-invoices, this is invaluable in your quest to prevent irretrievable payments being sent to scammers.

For further information on E-invoicing and how to run your Accounts Payable function according to best practices, read our full 8 Step Procure-to-Pay Guide.

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