Future of Billing

Future of Billing

The new White Paper of SIX examines the current state of the Swiss billing industry and provides strategic insights into potential future developments in the area of billing for both invoice recipients and invoice issuers, based on current tendencies and trends.

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The Background

Billing is a topic that is very much ingrained and established in the Swiss payments industry and highly relevant for buyers and sellers of goods and services, as well as financial institutions. In light of progressing digitization, billing is about to transform from an approach bound to paper to a digital experience.

The goal of this white paper is to provide a guide and food for thought for companies that issue and receive bills as well as software and billing services providers, banks, fintechs, and other payments enthusiasts. It is based on a number of considerations and discussions of the billing industry today and in the future. The present study was conducted in a joint effort between SIX and the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.

Facts & Figures

400 mn 400 mn

invoices per year from companies to private individuals in Switzerland

77% 77%

of payments were initiated electronically in 2019

1.9 mn 1.9 mn

registered eBill users (September 2020)

Billing Today

The way in which invoices are issued is changing. To what extent are digital solutions accepted, and what are the factors driving their success? How much does each type of billing cost? How reliable is it and how user-friendly?

The white paper examines the current billing practice in Switzerland and illustrates the high relevance of billing for the population and the economy. Four business-to-consumer (B2C) payment methods (direct debit, eBill, QR-bill, and e-mail invoice) are analyzed in detail and assessed. A utility analysis is applied to the four approaches in order to rank the approaches from both the invoice issuer and invoice recipient perspective.

Direct Debit

Invoice recipients benefit from the reliability of direct debits, especially for recurring payments. In turn, the invoice issuer benefits from the positive liquidity management provided by this approach (predictability of the payment date, low reminder rates). However, direct debit includes many paper-based elements for the registration process, which makes it less future-proof.

eBill

eBill was launched in 2018 and is a modern solution that features high levels of transparency, efficiency, flexibility, automation options and security. The assessment shows that eBill offers the greatest benefits overall and many advantages both for invoice issuers and recipients.  The results indicate the future potential of eBill as the main platform for payments. 

QR-bill

Unlike eBill, the QR-bill is not a billing platform but a document standard. The QR-bill, which was introduced in June 2020, represents an important step in the harmonization of Swiss payment transactions. It offers considerable flexibility. The major advantages for invoice issuers are the wide range of use cases and the ease with which a QR-bill can be issued.

E-mail invoice

The e-mail invoice is the least structured of the approaches analyzed. It is up to invoice recipients when and how they pay an e-mail invoice. The fact that invoices sent via e-mail sometimes end up in spam, that they sometimes do not reach the recipient at all or are the subject of phishing attacks, is a disadvantage for both invoice issuers and recipients. 

Future of Billing

How will the issuing and receipt of invoices change in the future? The second part of the white paper identifies technologies, concepts and trends with the potential to transform billing in the future. It focuses on three topics: how digitization will change billing, how intelligent billing platforms will facilitate new services and how the Internet of Things (IoT) will lead to new customer journeys. The following scenes illustrate how the new trends can simplify our everyday life in future.

Assisted purchase process

You enter a store to purchase a new television. You know which one you want, but want to check the screen quality before you purchase it. Also, you are not yet sure how to pay for it. Satisfied by the screen quality, you decide to purchase the television. By opening your banking application on your mobile phone, you can access your billing platform and request assistance from your billing assistant, who shows you your future financial obligations and all the billing options offered by the seller. Based on your current financial situation, your billing assistant recommends a payment in six instalments and some adaptions of payment dates for other existing bills. 

With a simple click, you confirm this option, thereby making the purchase and agreeing on the payment in six instalments. You opt for your billing assistant to remind you for every instalment. Once confirmed, this information is sent to the seller, who delivers the television straight to your doorstep the next day. All the documents related to the purchase are saved on the billing platform, and can be accessed anytime. You benefit from the best payment options over all bills and you have your financial situation under control.

Warranty reminder

Your tablet, which you bought yourself just last year, is broken. You remember that all the documents related to the purchase of the tablet are stored on your billing platform. Using the search function on the billing platform to find the purchase, your billing assistant reminds you that you still have over a year left on the warranty , and asks you if you want a request submitted for the replacement of the tablet. You confirm, and the billing assistant sends a replacement request along with the receipt and warranty to the seller. Within a couple of days, the exchange of your damaged tablet for a new one is organized through a postal service.

Simplified tax declaration

Instead of filling out the tax declaration yourself, you decide to make use of the optional tax declaration service provided through your billing platform. All the documents relevant for the tax declaration such as your bank statements, health insurance statements, receipts, wage sheets, mortgage payments, etc. are already stored on the billing platform. You simply need to allow the tax declaration service provider access to the relevant documents. Once you have done this, the service provider can fill out your tax declaration for you and notify you once this is complete. With a simple click you can confirm the tax declaration, and the service provider sends the tax declaration to the respective address. A copy of the submitted tax form is automatically stored in your document storage center on the billing platform, and can be accessed at any time.

The smart coffee machine

Before starting your busy day, you like to enjoy a good cup of coffee every morning. Due to your busy schedule, you used to constantly forget to buy coffee beans, which is why you decided to purchase an IoT coffee machine. Whenever you are almost out of coffee beans, the machine orders some at your local café and has them sent to you by postal mail. 

You have opted for the bill for the coffee beans to be paid automatically by your machine, but you can access and oversee the payments anytime on the billing platform. All the orders, payments, information on your coffee consumption, and documents related to the purchase and maintenance of your coffee machine are stored in the document storage center on the billing platform.

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Read More

eBill: The New Website is Live!

Currently, almost two million Swiss invoice recipients rely on eBill. Switch now to Switzerland's digital invoice and make your life a little simpler.

Payments Simplified

Swiss payment transactions are being harmonized and modernized continuously. This will ensure Switzerland can comply with upcoming market requirements. For example with the QR-bill. This can be read digitally and will replace all payment slips as of 30 June 2020. Or with eBill, which paves the way to seamless digital invoicing and payment.