TUNGSTEN & GLOBAL E-INVOICING TUNGSTEN & GLOBAL E-INVOICING ENABLEMENT . processing...
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While some would call e-invoicing a lowly operational task that CEOs, CFOs and CIOs shouldn’t invest the time to understand or explore, anymore than they should care about the latest in accounts payable automation and optical character recognition (OCR), the Spend Matters team has adopted a very different view of it, especially in emerging and global markets. We’re not alone – it turns out that more senior executives are actually paying attention to the receivables (on the buy side, including receiving
TUNGSTEN + GLOBAL COMPLIANCE [PRO] by Xavier Olivera
TUNGSTEN & GLOBAL E-INVOICING ENABLEMENT
processing electronic invoices and payment) and payables (on the supply side, including billing, e-invoice submission, early payment) areas. The impetus for this is government regulations are demanding greater compliance from companies, including implementing approved invoicing processes with data verification and integration to the ERP system in Latin America and other regions. And, as expected, the C-level wants to avoid any financial and tax penalties, causing these execs, in turn, to ensure the company’s e-invoicing system is in order.
Tungsten, an e-invoicing network provider, is front and center in facilitating global compliance, although it has done a rather poor job at marketing what it is actually up to. In this 2-part Spend Matters PRO analysis, we explain what Tungsten is doing in enabling global compliance efforts, going beyond the basics of what
Latin America and the Rise of Compliance Corruption breeds radical approaches – especially when it comes to making sure the taxman gets paid. Perhaps, then, it is no surprise that governments in Latin American countries are taking the lead in forcing companies to implement e-invoicing not just for basic compliance reasons – e.g., to avoid money laundering risks by engaging with third-party companies without a proper verification process – but also to have a real-time audit capability and to improve the battle against shadow economies.
Mexico is one of the success stories here, having eliminated 4% of the shadow economy in a single year by introducing e-invoicing mandates, according to the Mexico Federal Tax Institution SAT. Other countries in Latin America and around the world are following this lead, including Turkey, Russia, Chile and Brazil in implementing e-invoicing mandates to boost their own legitimate economies.
The importance of complying with new federal and state government regulations is why the C-level is joining the e-invoicing discussion. The consequences associated with poor invoicing practices are also drawing the attention of the executives. Believe it or not, CFOs actually do risk time in jail if they fail to comply with government regulations in Mexico and other markets, which include the validation and use of electronic documents (invoices) and the match of their annual financial results to their reports to government.co
Where Tungsten Comes In Tungsten’s e-invoicing and global compliance approach leverages a combination of its standard onboarding and e-invoicing management capability with a truly localized (and global) supplier network model that creates comprehensive audit trails. The provider can also offer local financing in exchange for early payment, although this capability has been scarcely adopted to date. (Invoiceware is also targeting a trade financing offering for Latin American countries, which will create a fascinating invoicing and compliance payables/receivables financing battleground.)
Tungsten is a rather unique supplier network – no supplier can start transacting without going through a formal due diligence/”know your customer”-like process. This insures that the supplier does in fact exist and has the proper credentials or certifications to transact with the corresponding client. This may sound like table stakes, but its competitors generally do not offer the same process or level of assurance on a regional basis. Most importantly, the process provides a checkpoint so multinational companies can feel comfortable doing business with suppliers that meet specific compliance requirements.
Tungsten does not outsource compliance. Rather, its regional supplier onboarding process is done in-house and provides a level of control and transparency that is hard to match aside from the regional capabilities of Invoiceware and some of the local work Ariba/ Quadrem and SAP have done. Incidentally, Tradeshift loves to
poke fun at Tungsten for the various elements of its processes, but Tradeshift itself has had to outsource its efforts entirely in certain Latin America countries.
But How Does it Work? Each country where Tungsten offers its solution has different setup and onboarding requirements, which Tungsten makes sure are followed and reviewed by an official tax
advisor to ensure the solution is technically and operationally ready in that location. The Tungsten Network provides support throughout the onboarding process, including making sure all legally required data fields are available for completion, checking for the presence of data (e.g. VAT ID, addresses, etc.) and the accuracy of that data (e.g. supplier’s directors), as well as making sure digital signatures are according to the applicable law, etc.
Tungsten uses a process that confirms authenticity of the suppliers in two ways. First, it contacts all suppliers, including gathering all the necessary information. Second, it verifies and validates the information with external databases (D&B and others). Tungsten also does its own research as a regulated bank (Tungsten Bank plc, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tungsten Corporation plc) depending on the level of rigor required in a particular customer or region.
Archiving, too, is needed at times on behalf of the supplier and/or buyers, and Tungsten supports these activities as required in each country. Tungsten’s service also supports suppliers in their responsibility to submit compliant invoices. However, Tungsten Network is not (and cannot) be responsible based on the law to identify the nature of the transactions or check the applicable tax mechanisms – that rests with the finance, A/P and legal teams within a customer organization.
In certain cases, Tungsten partners with local service providers that are certified by the local governments to issue validated invoices. It is also investing tens of millions of dollars to become compliant in several countries inside Latin and South America, including Mexico, Chile and Brazil as well as other countries outside the region such as Turkey, Russia and India. Additionally, Tungsten is investing additional funds on a monthly basis to ensure ongoing maintenance support for changes of compliance requirements.
In short, the Tungsten value proposition is to deliver a complete regional and localized e-invoicing service in what Spend Matters views is really a global managed service for its clients – not just a technical solution, e-invoicing network or platform.
At the core, this is in fact very different from what many of its competitors purport to offer. As our coverage continues in Part 2 of this analysis, we will explore in more depth how Tungsten enables localized compliance.
THE DEVIL IN THE COMPLIANCE DETAILS Global e-invoicing compliance is hard. And few supplier network and e-invoicing providers are truly compliant in the actual manner in which they claim – especially on a regional basis around the globe. Tungsten is one of the exceptions to the rule, in part because of its own paranoia surrounding all the nuances and minutia of making sure its customers are compliant on a country-by-country basis in Latin America, Turkey and elsewhere. In the second installment of a 2-part Spend Matters PRO analysis, we explore the details of Tungsten’s global compliance approach, starting first with Tungsten’s efforts in the area of content validation.
In the area of global e-invoicing compliance, validations are typically divided between fiscal and commercial areas. But Tungsten packages both together in its offering to comply with the tax government institution requirements; it does this in certain cases by partnering with local certified service providers to avoid having customers fail fiscal validations. For commercial validations, Tungsten’s service assures the compliance of any addendum(s) or commercial requirement(s) that its clients may need to provide for the invoices
How Far is Tungsten Going in Content Validations?
integrates with ERP and government data. All client validations happen before data hits the system of record (i.e., ERP) or government systems.
ity Tungsten has a set of rules that enables suppliers to create compliant invoices using the Tungsten platform. These rules are applied through the Tungsten Network Rules Engine. They include:
• Global population rules • Global validation rules • Country specific rules • Buyer rules
The goal of the collective set of rules is to control invoice content and accuracy to the greatest degree possible (even though the supplier remains responsible for providing the accurate invoice content that is required by applicable local law, buyers are on the hook as well).
The Complexity of Regional Requirements
Tungsten positions itself a software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider by delivering a model in which it offers a full invoicing service (not a software solution). This includes electronic inv