Overcoming the Barriers to Adopting E-Billing/Invoicing

If you put the term “e-billing” into the Google search engine, almost 10 million results are returned and articles and items stretch back for over 10 years since people began talking about the topic in earnest. But adoption rates have been slow and very few companies have taken the plunge. When asked why, most companies say that there are too many barriers to overcome and they are therefore still waiting for better options. So what are these barriers and are there any ways in which to overcome them? When you analyse the most often mentioned obstacles or barriers, 5 seem to emerge as the most significant. Let’s look at each of these in turn:

1. Too many people don’t have or don’t use the Internet

While this was true 10 years ago and partially true even 5 years ago, it is largely not true today. Over 23 million people in the UK now have access to the Internet and over half of these have broad band access. Furthermore, 2 in every 3 adults in the age range 18-65 now log regularly into an Internet bank account to perform a variety of transactions. With ready access to on-line banking sites via smart phones, this number will quickly increase further.

2. Customers won’t like it

Customers are notoriously slow to accept change and will usually only do so if they have compelling reasons to do so. Almost 100% of possible customers famously rejected using ATM machines when it was introduced as a concept over 20 years ago, and yet there are now 60,000 of them in the UK (1 for every 1000 people in the population). In addition it has become the most popular and convenient way to not only get money but to perform other financial transactions. This turnaround was achieved with ATMs by making the whole experience simple or straightforward. Hence, the “trick” for e-billing adoption is to make it as easy as possible for customers to use it-this means that the approach should be user-friendly, fast (only a few clicks) convenient and safe-an issue we will look at next.

3. Accepting on-line payments is not safe or secure enough

This is a serious concern and one which is much discussed on Internet blogs and elsewhere (especially when people have bad experiences). Research suggests that 25% of people do not like using their credit cards on line as a result of safety and security concerns. However, apart from the 75% who clearly are, the credit card companies have done much to improve on-line systems in the last couple of years, with “3D-secure” technology being one of the most significant. In addition, good e-billing and payment sites do not require credit card detail storing and therefore provide an “instant pay” option. This allows customers to make a 3D-secure based credit or debit payment as many times as they like until they feel more comfortable to register (and even then, only do so at a site that provides a login/password/anti-login robot process).

4. It’s too disruptive to existing billing practices/processes

The entire billing and payment system can involve quite a lot of people and processes so its easy to feel that the effort to change can be quite time consuming at least and very disruptive in some cases. However, once again, it depends what solution you decide to bring in. Many full digital billing solutions (such as payswyft) operate as an adjunct payment channel to existing processes. The beauty of this approach is that an organisation can offer its customers a full ebilling experience without necessarily changing very much at all in the short term. Customers are merely told (on either their physical bill or on the company web site for example) that they can pay on-line and can do so easily. At a later stage, as people and processes are ready, the organisation can then more strongly incentivise the customer to use the on-line system and use the savings to fund process changes and the re-purposing of people’s time (as effort is saved on older practices).

5. The software integration is too difficult or complex

While occasionally true this is often an excuse to “leave things as they are” and in reality, once gain, really depends on what solution you decide to bring in. It is true that many software based solutions require quite a lot of work to integrate the e-billing software with the internal accounting system (which may be quite a difficult task at times). However, the best and easiest solution is to use a third-party portal (again such as PaySwyft) which allows invoices to be easily uploaded to the site (in bulk at one go) and then be paid by a variety of means in just a few clicks). Such sites allow API uploads straight from accounting software packages and will allow easy reconciliation back to receivable files (saving huge amounts of time and effort).


E-Billing and payment is the way of the future but many organisations feel that adopting it may take a lot of time and effort. However, as we have seen above, by adopting a full digital solution with a sophisticated third-party portal, the whole process can be made quite simple and involve very little time and effort. As a result, any organisation, no matter how small or large, could be e-billing successfully within just a few days of deciding to offer it (and be saving lots of time, hassle and money in doing so).