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Hungarian companies hold on to paper invoices

In Hungary, the majority of invoice traffic is paper-based. While 25% of the companies have started to use electronic solutions, the consumers are more resisting: about 80% of them is not open to change its habits at all, Itella Information’s latest survey reveals.

Itella Information, a branch of Itella Group (formerly Finnish postal services) conducted its survey about the European invoicing procedures and development trends in spring 2010. The survey included consumers and companies, among them 300 Hungarians - leaving out the top 20 but surveying all other sizes with more than five employees.

It turned out that Hungarian consumers are among the most conservative regarding the change in the issue of invoices. About 80% of the residents would like to keep on receiving paper invoices through traditional postal services. However, as it happened elsewhere, it is very likely that as electronic solutions gain market share the openness of the residents will increase.

The company sector is more open to new solutions: already 25% of them are using electronic sales and purchase invoices. They still lag behind the UK that has a 89% ratio of e-ready companies, but way better than their Polish counterparts with 11%. What is sad though, is that Hungarian enterprises think their invoice traffic will keep the paper-based in the next 2-3 years’ time.

“It could be the low level of infrastructure, awareness, legislation or e-readiness why e-billing is not so wide spread as in the UK,” Flórián Kugler, country sales manager of Itella argues. “Before the crisi, enterprises were also too busy to grow and not focused on back office processes,” Kugler adds.

However, crisis brought a new perspective: now 64% of the companies would prefer to cut costs by implementing purchase invoice projects and lowering expenditure on top of the list in case of sales invoices as well. According to the country manager, all businesses with over one thousand invoice transactions a month should consider implementing an electronic system. Larger companies can influence change by implementing and making e-processes exclusive and requiring their suppliers to send their invoices this way.

Inbound invoices go through a 6-step process, costing €17.60 for a single invoice, but if the process is electronic and automated, the cost is €6.70, meaning 62% of savings. Outbound invoices mean a 4-step process, with savings of 57% (€4.70 instead of €11.10), according to Itella’s survey.

It’s clear that the potential of electronic invoices is far from being used. With over 30 billion invoices produced annually in Europe, the significance of e-solutions is not only economical, but green as well. “We are emphasizing environmental models,” Miikka Savolainen Itella Information European branch manager said. (BBJ Online)