Cash & Liquidity Management
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News from TWIST – Encouraging Developments

by Tom Buschman, Chairman & CEO of TWIST

Harmonisation in Europe around SWIFT/TWIST ISO 20022 payment standards

The European Payment Council (EPC), the coordination body of the European banking industry in relation to payments, has embraced the ISO 20022 standards for the SEPA project. When designing the so-called SEPA Rulebooks for Credit Transfers and Direct Debit, the UNIFY (ISO 20022) XML Message standards developed by SWIFT, TWIST, OAGi, IFX and UN/CEFACT were always at their core. The focus thus far has been on Rulebooks that would apply for payment messaging between banks. But national banking communities have interpreted the designs for credit transfers differently for the receipt of payment instructions from their customers. The differences in some specific detailed technical respects have now been recognised as undesirable by the EPC. It published in June 2008 proposals on harmonizing specifications in this area. When accepted by the national banking communities, the resulting corporate-to-bank standards for SEPA throughout the EU will be the customer-to-bank UNIFI (ISO 20022) XML Message Standards as originally developed jointly by SWIFT and TWIST.

An ad-hoc working group of TWIST led by Steven Hartjes, senior partner at Ernst & Young, has written a white paper about the control framework for e-voicing.

Status report from the EU Expert Group on e-Invoicing

As a result of a European Commission Decision, an EU Expert Group on e-Invoicing started its work early 2008. This group, with representation from TWIST, has the task to identify business requirements and responsibilities for the execution of specific work, as well as to steer the creation -by the end of 2009- of a European e-Invoicing Framework. The group issued in June this year its first status report. In the area of standards for invoice content, the report states that “there is substantial evidence that convergence between a number of European and global standards initiatives (within UN/CEFACT, ISO TC68 (the ISO20022 standard) and CEN (various Workshops) has and is continuing to take place. The Expert Group will encourage and promote full transparency of these activities, and ensure that its recommendations are submitted where appropriate to these standards processes, so that its recommendations can be validated by stakeholders and practical approaches found. It is unlikely that a single standard for the invoice will emerge or even be desirable given the diversity of user needs, but with careful design a core cross- industry invoice with appropriate extensions is within reach.”

A Control Framework for e-Invoicing

Today’s business processes are to a large extent still paper-based, which results in inefficiencies as paper needs to be forwarded from one employee in a firm to the next either in the same firm or in another firm before it reaches its final destination. Many companies have implemented some form of dematerialisation, turning paper into electronic messages. A good example is the exchange of invoices, which allows electronic exchange of data, not just within a company but also with a company’s main trading partners, such as suppliers, customers and banks. Automation often comes with fear for weakened business controls. An ad-hoc working group of TWIST led by Steven Hartjes, senior partner at Ernst & Young, has written a white paper about the control framework for e-invoicing. This control framework presents an end-to-end analysis of how to control the purchase to pay process of a company, in which various controls will be linked to the objectives they aim to achieve.