For central and local government

The public sector creates prerequisites for a digital economy and benefits from them. Central and local government must develop digital services tailored to the needs of their own customers. At the same time, state and local government agencies must develop, for example, general technical capabilities for application programming interfaces so that real-time information can be received and shared.

Practical benefits for the public sector

  • With rapidly developing ecosystems and access to real-time data, it is easier to forecast economic trends and tax revenue.
  • The state administration would save about €22 million each year if all receipts and purchase invoices were in electronic format and could be processed automatically.
  • Authorities could use information already provided once.
  • When companies’ financial situation can be monitored in real time, applying for subsidies in exceptional situations would be easier, while at the same time, financial trends in individual sectors could be analysed in real time.

There are also benefits to society at large

One purpose of the project is to identify and develop new services for all actors in the sector and identify official functions that are currently nobody’s responsibility. There will be significant benefits to service development and companies when government agencies use interfaces to make their register data accessible. Manual work is expected to decrease as companies’ systems and services can use the technical connection between systems to make the necessary data checks. Incomplete basic register data can also be automatically supplemented using the same connection.

Lighter administrative burden

Preparation of official reports, a major administrative burden for companies, can be reduced with the measures listed above. For example, taxation is expected to become an integral part of companies’ financial administration processes.

Use of structured data will reduce manual work in government agencies and allow more automation in data processing. For example, structured, machine-readable financial statements allow the Finnish Patent and Registration Office to automatically register financial statements, which means less manual work and reduces the costs resulting from scanning services. Financial statements can be made available to the data users as high-quality documents when the data is in structured and validated format.

The same information can be used for many purposes

Structured real-time reporting will also make the data easier to use in national information services, reducing the costs incurred by companies from this process. At the same time, statistics and reports will become more comprehensive and it becomes easier to quickly produce information for national needs. Companies use about 140 person-years annually to participate in surveys organised by Statistics Finland to collect information for its statistics on companies and organisations. In the long term, there would be a significant reduction in routine work if the most accurate row-level data based on statistical taxonomies could be collected from companies’ systems and made into reports on the basis of these systems.

Structured financial data would also allow analysis and monitoring of information from the perspective of sustainable development goals and the Green Economy.  Elements supporting Green Economy goals could be added to structured information.

Making electronic receipts a reality for everyone

In the Real-Time Economy project, state administration will be provided with the capability to accept electronic vouchers, and measures will be introduced to coordinate the information needs of government agencies, to standardise information contents and to make it easier for public administration actors (especially municipalities) and companies to introduce electronic vouchers. The aim is to make electronic vouchers a routine tool for enterprises and public sector actors of all sizes.

  • There is potential for expanding e-invoicing

    Government agencies and large companies (annual turnover more than EUR 50 million or more than 250 employees) make extensive use of e-invoicing. According to Statistics Finland, 83% of companies with more than ten employees send e-invoices. About 97% of purchase invoices and 38% of sales invoices of government agencies are e-invoices. Sales invoices also include consumer invoices.

    Municipalities and joint municipal authorities use e-invoices to a varying degree. About 80% of the municipalities and 83% of the joint municipal authorities taking part in the survey conducted by the State Treasury in 2021 said that they use e-invoices in purchase invoicing. In sales invoicing, the average utilisation rate of e-invoices in municipalities was only 24% and in joint municipal authorities 31%. Sales invoices also include the invoices sent to consumers, many of which are still sent as paper documents. One-time invoices sent to consumers (such as invoices for permits and hospital fees) is one reason why a substantially lower proportion of sales invoices are sent as e-invoices. One-time invoices cannot be digitalised with existing equipment. Under the Electronic Invoicing Act, municipalities and joint municipal authorities should have the capability to accept and send e-invoices. However, not all municipalities possess e-invoicing expertise and they do not use existing services.

    In January 2022, in a Proof of Concept (PoC) jointly carried out by the Real-Time Economy project and its private sector partners, a one-time e-invoice sent by a public sector actor was transmitted to a consumer MobilePay application.

  • Digital receipt will be fully introduced in 2025

    Digital receipt is a standardised electronic receipt in structured format, which can be transmitted in structured format between computer programs. Purchases made with charge cards are entered in bookkeeping accounts automatically and it is no longer necessary to scan receipts and attach them to expenditure or travel invoices.

    Digital receipts are occasionally used by customers of a small number of retail chains. Extensive use of digital receipt functionalities is still in the early stages of development.

    About 600,000 receipts are processed in central government each year and digital receipts account for less than one per cent of this total. However, central government has the capability to accept and process digital receipts in its travel and expense management system. There are significant differences between municipalities in this regard and no exact figures on the number of receipts processed in local government are available. The assumption is that municipalities are poorly prepared to accept digital receipts.

    In November 2021, a digital receipt pilot was successfully carried out with the Finnish police in the Real-Time Economy project.

    The aim is that digital receipt would be a requirement in future central government competitive tendering, that from 2025 onwards, government agencies would only accept digital receipts from companies with the capability to send them and that by the end of 2025, central and local government would have the capability to send digital receipts.

, Updated 17.8.2023 at 11:09