Internet Invoicing Gets Boost

German firms debut automated process for applying e-signatures to invoices for bulk e-mailing

Schenectady, NY  August 9, 2002  Deutsche Telecom's T-Systems subsidiary and German electronic signature specialist AuthentiDate International have developed a process for automating the bulk certification and transmission of electronic documents, the two companies announced this week.

Traditionally, under German law, invoices and orders had to be electronically "signed" individually in order to ensure a legally secure transmission via the Internet. But using the new process, firms will no longer need to individually "sign" invoices and orders. The process, the first of its kind in Germany, meets the legal requirements of that country's new sales tax law.

That law, which went into effect January 1, stipulates that electronic invoices must be provided with a special signature in compliance with the country's signature law, otherwise the value-added tax cannot be deducted and a paper document must be used in addition to the electronic document.

The new process obviates the need for the paper invoices. By using the electronic process, companies can significantly reduce their billing costs by avoiding the use of traditional paper invoices sent out through "snail mail," the solution providers assert.

The process also meets European Union requirements, allowing it to be used for invoicing international business transactions.

T-Systems has installed the e-billing solution, developed by AuthentiDate, in its "trust center," T-Telesec, which has been certified by German authorities since 1997 as being officially licensed to apply electronic signatures.

Companies send their data to T-Telesec, and the trust center then signs these documents, provides them with a time stamp and sends them on. A personalized signature is attached using T-Telesec smart cards.

"This solution can be used irrespective of which software a company uses to draw up their invoices," said Bernd Kowalski, the head of T-Telesec.