Peppol eInvoicing: Is Big Brother watching?

By Kris Elliott

As the adoption of Peppol eInvoicing continues to accelerate across Australia and NZ, there are some organisations that remain hesitant about exchanging procurement documents via the Peppol network. 

Peppol is being advocated on both sides of the Tasman as the best way to transact with government agencies and there are various mandates around government adoption, however there is some scepticism about the integrity of the invoice information and who might have access to it. 

The result is a perception that Peppol eInvoicing is a government-only solution or that somehow it’s a ruse for the government to access financial records. Let me say in clear and unequivocal language: This perception is wrong.

It’s no secret that originally the middle two Ps in the acronym “Peppol” stood for “Public Procurement”. After all, Peppol was conceived as a framework to enable businesses to communicate electronic procurement documents with European Government Agencies. The idea was that standardising the way in which procurement information was exchanged would encourage growth, stability, and economic integration in Europe.  

Given its origin story of enabling B2G transactions, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that many still see Peppol eInvoicing as a government-only solution. Many Access Point providers will be familiar with the feedback of ‘We don’t have any government customers so it’s not really relevant to us’.  

Of course, Peppol grew and continues to grow well beyond the borders of Europe and its use as a B2B framework is also now well established. But as Peppol evolved, so too has the feedback inspired by its B2G roots. The anti-government hesitation has morphed into ‘I don’t want the government to see all my transactions’. 

The initial concern about relevancy has become a new concern around privacy. Put simply, there are some that view the enthusiasm with which government promotes Peppol eInvoicing as being fuelled by a desire to have greater visibility of tax-related transactions.

I cannot state more plainly that this is simply untrue.

As an Accredited Access Point provider for the Peppol network, I can confirm that the ATO & MBIE have zero visibility of the content of the transactions that go across the Peppol network. 

They can’t see any reporting of GST, WET, or LCT. ATO & MBIE, as the Peppol Authorities for Australia and NZ, can’t actually see any invoice content. They are reliant on the Access Point providers reporting aggregated data on the total number of entities and transactions each month. 

While the compilation of this data is needed in order to see high-level adoption trends, the government can’t actually see granular information.

At the risk of belabouring my point and in the hope of putting an end to this rumour once and for all, I reached out to a couple of people with an interest in Peppol eInvoicing to ask for their opinion on whether or not Peppol eInvoicing was a government-only solution and whether ATO or MBIE could see any of the Peppol transaction data. 

When I put this to Stu Ross, Manager Operations & Promotions – eInvoicing at New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE), he was happy to confirm: 

“MBIE is implementing eInvoicing because it improves accuracy and security, reduces process time and speeds up payments. MBIE can’t see any of the details of the transactions that happen across the Peppol network.”

Mark Stockwell, Acting Assistant Commissioner, Australian Taxation Office (ATO) was happy to add: “The ATO has no visibly of Peppol e-Invoice transactions in Australia. We have no policy or infrastructure to support us to do this.

“Government agencies are adopting Peppol eInvoicing to create efficiencies for their own processes so that they can make payments to their suppliers faster. Businesses of all sizes can benefit from the efficiencies that eInvoicing provides them”

The push to adopt Peppol eInvoicing is all about promoting savings, security and efficiencies to businesses of all sizes and across all industries.

  • It is not just for government (B2G) transactions.
  • It’s about reducing payment times to stimulate the flow of money within the economy.
  • It’s about streamlining processes through standardisation to promote interoperability.  
  • It's about freeing up time from admin tasks and enabling automation solutions so that businesses can focus on what they do best.
  • It’s about trying to make it that little bit easier to do business with your domestic and international trading partners.  
  • It’s time to get on board and enable eInvoicing for your business. 


Kris Elliott is Sales Manager - Asia Pacific at Peppol Access Point Storecove.