Magazine article American Banker

B-to-B Invoice 'Translator' Seeks U.S. Customers

Magazine article American Banker

B-to-B Invoice 'Translator' Seeks U.S. Customers

Article excerpt

A former banker is spearheading efforts to introduce a British company's online invoicing service in the United States.

Martha Perlin, who spent 14 years at Citibank and Bankers Trust in transaction processing and cash management positions, has been named the U.S. president of Open Business Exchange, a London-based start-up that provides an electronic invoice delivery service in the business-to-business marketplace.

"I've always been a strong proponent of looking at outsourcing opportunities," Ms. Perlin said in an interview. "Looking at the business proposition and the competitive landscape, this made a lot of sense."

Unlike consumer-oriented services for electronic bill presentment and payment, which offer a comprehensive solution for online billing, OBE focuses on the narrow task of translating an electronic invoice from the format of the biller's computer system to the format of the payer's system.

The market is substantial: OBE estimates that companies in the United States and Europe process 15 billion to 20 billion paper invoices each year, at an estimated cost to the supply chain of $14 per invoice. The company claims potential cost reductions of more than 80% for large organizations.

Founded in May 2000 by a group led by Alain Falys, a former senior vice president in the European region for Visa International, the new service is coming to market as online billing competition is beginning to heat up. Xign Corp. of Pleasanton, Calif., introduced software this week that plugs into PeopleSoft Financials, providing authentication and payment services to corporate users of PeopleSoft Inc. enterprise software.

Likewise, Forrester Research noted the European introduction of OBE in a May report on electronic outsourcing, remarking dryly, "Even eBusiness-hostile greens will welcome Open Business Exchange's new paperless invoice-processing platform. …

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