SINGAPORE - Businesses will now be able to bill and make payment to one another in seamless online fashion, as Singapore continues its digital push amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
This comes with the integration of PayNow Corporate, an instant fund transfer service for businesses, into Singapore's nationwide e-invoicing network, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said on Wednesday (Sept 23).
IMDA worked with major local banks DBS, OCBC and UOB to develop the solution.
Previously, after receiving an e-invoice, companies would still have to take an extra step for payment such as by logging in to their bank's Internet banking platform, wiring a bank transfer or writing a cheque.
They now need only click on a link provided with the e-invoice, which will direct them to a payment portal with all the relevant information and items automatically filled up, check if the amount billed is correct, and then send instant payment to business' UEN numbers.
The instant payment is possible as PayNow Corporate, launched in 2018, links bank account numbers to UEN numbers.
E-invoicing is the automated creation, exchange and processing of request for payments between suppliers and buyers using a standardised digital format. It does away with existing digitised invoices, such as computer printouts, PDF documents or scanned invoices which require some level of human input to process.
The e-invoicing network, now known as InvoiceNow, was rolled out last year. More than 25,000 businesses have joined the network, up from 1,000 in March.
"Within the past three months, we have seen an exponential increase in businesses coming on board e-invoicing," said IMDA assistant chief executive Jane Lim.
"Our aim is to drive further adoption to benefit more businesses."
IMDA said the billing and payment integration also works with other modes of e-payments especially for overseas businesses that do not have PayNow.
Adopting e-invoicing is one of the conditions for companies to be eligible for a payout of up to $10,000 under the Digital Resilience Bonus, which was announced in May.
Companies that register for InvoiceNow on or before Dec 31 will also be able to receive a grant of $200, paid through PayNow Corporate.
DBS group head of global transaction services John Laurens said the integration of InvoiceNow with PayNow shows "great potential", as it dovetails with Singapore's push towards a unified e-payments system and cashless society.
"We will continue to actively engage our corporate customers on the benefits of digitalisation to drive greater adoption of InvoiceNow and PayNow," he said.
UOB's country head of business banking in Singapore Mervyn Koh added that the move would shorten the time taken from invoicing to receiving payment and increase the use of electronic payments in business transactions.
OCBC's head of global transaction banking Melvyn Low noted the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that companies can no longer afford to put digitalisation on the backburner.
"InvoiceNow and PayNow are two initiatives that have seen strong take-up from our business banking customers," he said.