The Great Paper Debate

Marie Ligier | June 7, 2017

Consuming information in a digital format is part of daily life. However, the debate around paper vs. digital receipts when it comes to filing business expenses rolls on. Why is that? The truth is, there are still countries that aren’t sold on digital receipts as justification of business spend, so employees are still required to produce a physical receipt as a proof of the expense.

However, we have seen some progress in digitalization.  European countries such as UK, Belgium and Spain, allow digital receipts, in most cases. For Belgium and Spain receipts must be ‘certified’ with a digital signature.  France is also progressing with new legislation introduced at the end of 2016.  This legislation brings more flexibility and KDS is already supporting some clients in preparing to benefit from this legislation. The process involves an e-signature contained in a PDF document, with a seal from KDS on behalf of the client.  The process must be submitted for approval by the client to the fiscal authorities before introducing the change. With the aim of keeping ahead of these developments, KDS fully supports a paperless process for business expenses, taking into account regional requirements.

And so, the direction for companies with global spend is still not 100% clear. In short, if you want to be compliant and if you have global spend and want to reclaim VAT, in many cases paper is still required. Just two years ago, GBTA reported that paper receipts remained the most popular method when submitting expense claims, the most notable number was Europe where 81% of receipts were paper. We have however come a long way since then and ensuring that we are well positioned to comply with new regulations across our operating regions is key. And the crux of that will lie in choosing a technology partner that is innovative and forward thinking, giving you built in functionality to meet the changing needs of your business.

Let’s face it, if change isn’t already here across your global business units, it’s coming. Cumbersome paper based processes are more than a sub-par user experience, (that we don’t use in our personal lives) they are also costly when you consider decades of paper storage and additional time and effort when multiple employees are required to manually shuffle paper. And then there’s the environmental benefits of cutting paper usage, but that’s another blog!

So, what do organisations do when faced with the question of how to solve the paper challenge and join the paperless revolution?  In my opinion, by today’s standards a digital experience is a must and the only way to accommodate governmental or organisational requirements digitally is to use a legally valuable PDF receipt that is signed, sealed and certified for fiscal authorities.  A numerically signed PDF can have a positive financial impact on receipt storage cost, improve the user experience and reduce the back-office time spent shuffling paper, all while remaining compliant.