Paperless accounting: from dream to reality

The dream of paperless bookkeeping was born with the market entry of the first computer terminals with video displays. In the 1970s the head of Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center was imaging a feature without paper. Even back then, people could see the possible process speed increase and simplification for all stakeholders.

 

Today, nearly 50 years later, we can pay with our mobile phones and watches. However, for bookkeeping purposes, we have to keep every receipt and invoice in paper form. We have to stack them in folders and store them in file cabinets for 10 years.

 

But the tides are changing.

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by Atanas Zaprianov 01 Jul 2020

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Countries in the EEA start to introduce paperless regulation

Spain was one of the first countries to introduce a regulatory framework enabling companies to keep all of their invoices and receipts as digital documents. France and Germany followed suit at the start of the 2010s. Both countries updated their laws in 2019 and aligned them better with the new digital reality. 

 

Both Spain’s and France’s tax authorities have specific requirements to allow companies to throw away paper invoices and receipts. The UK defines no rules on how businesses need to keep records. Germany’s regulatory approach on the other hand follows the middle ground. With the Grundsätze zur ordnungsgemäßen Führung und Aufbewahrung von Büchern, Aufzeichnungen und Unterlagen in elektronischer Form sowie zum Datenzugriff (GoBD) it provides accountants, businesses and software providers with a set of compliance guidelines. 

 

Payhawk helps business to go paperless

Payhawk’s goal is to ease and simplify the life of all stakeholders in the pre-accounting process. Cardholders should focus on their business goals, not on keeping all paper receipts for their expense report. Accountants should process and interpret the data, not fill folders with paper. 

 

We are proud to stay true to our goal with this product announcement. We are introducing features to help our clients with compliance and enable them to build paperless pre-accounting processes. 

 

Cropping: This is an important issue for our Spanish and Belgian customers. When a cardholder uploads a document via the Payhawk’s app, Payhawk automatically detects the document’s edges. The cardholder can edit the cropping area by moving the edges or the whole crop frame. You can learn more about this feature here.

 

Transform images to PDF: This is an important issue for our Spanish and French customers. Image file formats change. For example, Apple introduced a new proprietary image format for the iPhone with the iOS 11

 

Consequently, if a company chooses the wrong format, it might face interest payments and penalty fees in a few years. Hence, Payhawk automatically transforms and stores all uploaded images in a standardized PDF format. We are making sure that auditors and business can open these documents in 10 years. 

 

Time-stamp: This is an important issue for our Spanish, French, German and Belgian customers. When an employee uploads a document, Payhawk will automatically time-stamp the image and add it as a meta-data to the document. In the case of an audit, the company can verify that this is the original, unmanipulated image. This is a requirement in all legislations.

 

This step adds another piece of the puzzle for Payhawk to enable customers across the European Economic Area to do paperless accounting. 

Written by Atanas Zaprianov

July 1, 2020

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