Electronic invoices will soon be available for the first time at brick-and-mortar stores on a trial basis, as part of a government plan to gradually replace paper receipts with e-invoicing by 2012, the Ministry of Finance said.
Customers who shop with smart cards or store membership cards at 27 designated 7-Eleven and Hi-Life convenience stores, or at Pxmart supermarkets, yesterday began to have their purchase information and invoice numbers automatically transferred to a database operated by the ministry’s Financial Data Center, Minister of Finance Lee Sush-der (李述德) said.
Other devices with built-in chips or radio-frequency identification, such as watches and cellphones, will also be used for e-invoicing in later stages of the project, Lee added.
About 11.5 billion invoices are printed every year, according to statistics. If 8 billion paper receipts could be replaced by electronic invoices a year, 80,000 trees could be saved, Lee said.
In an attempt to conserve resources, the ministry has decided to push for comprehensive e-invoicing to make shopping more convenient and eco-friendly.
The reform is estimated to reduce the invoice process cost by NT$7.4 billion (US$248 million) between this year and 2013. The reduction is forecast to reach as much as NT$120 billion once the whole country is using paperless invoices, Lee added.
Two further stages of the e-invoicing trial will take place at more shops and retailers in March and June, the ministry said.
Currently, online shops, TV shopping channels and -business-to-business firms have all already taken advantage of electronic billing since the ministry set up an e-invoice platform in 2006.