Thales Speeds Up and Secures Electronic Invoicing at Si.mobil-Vodafone

European and Slovenian national directives and legislation now allow companies to issue invoices solely in an electronic format, as long as they follow a strict set of rules. Si.mobil–Vodafone was quick to realise the huge savings that could be achieved by eliminating paper-based invoicing and, with the help of technology from Thales, it is now one of the largest electronic invoicing systems in Slovenia.

Si.mobil-Vodafone is the first private mobile telephony operator in Slovenia and with its variety of new services, products and technologies is competing directly with the large state owned telco. With more than 500,000 customers, billing is a major cost to the business. Si.mobil-Vodafone therefore took the decision to introduce electronic invoicing. As a result, it is now possible for all of Si.mobilVodafone’s customers to choose whether they receive invoices in paper or electronic format, or both.

The electronic invoices must be created in accordance with strict EU directives and legislative requirements that require proof of authenticity and integrity. To do this Si.mobil-Vodafone worked with ecommerce solutions provider SETCCE who is experienced in automating electronic business processes in accordance with legal requirements. SETCCE also has a strong technology partnership with Thales who provided the core security technology.

The solution was effectively designed as an ‘in-house electronic print shop’ that captures the data normally sent to the printing house and post office for paper-based invoicing. The data is then processed and an electronic invoice is produced along with any necessary supplementary information such as detailed specifications on services provided. All electronic documents are created in accordance with the VAT Act and Accounting Standards.

Next, each invoice is digitally signed to seal its integrity and authenticity and delivered to customers via e-mail or through alternative electronic channels.

SETCCE’s eBiller® system processes the input data and generates invoices while Thales nShield™ hardware security modules (HSMs), part of the nCipher product line, are used to digitally sign the electronic invoices. With high volumes, time is a crucial factor and the nShield HSM plays an essential role by accelerating the cryptographic processing. It is capable of more than 5,000 digital signatures per second (1024 RSA key signing).

Benefits With Thales

  • Protecting customers and the business from fraud
  • Up to 80 percent of product and distribution costs saved by eliminating paper-based processing
  • Reducing the risk of data breeches
  • Managing encryption keys quickly and cost effectively
  • Delivering integrity, authenticity and a secure audit trail

Another very important requirement was the secure storage of cryptographic keys needed to apply digital signatures to electronic invoices. The nShield HSM not only securely stores the keys for digital signing but it also secures and manages access to the information. The Thales HSM provides a tamper-resistant hardware environment certified to FIPS 140-2 level 3, one of the most stringent security benchmarks in the industry; and the private keys can only be accessed and used for signing if the correct number of authorised personnel are present. This means that the chances of compromising the keys and the process are almost eliminated.

E-invoicing has further strengthened Si-mobil’s position as a progressive mobile services operator and the financial benefits are increasing daily as more and more customers opt to receive invoices solely in electronic format. Si.mobil-Vodafone believes that up to 80 percent of production and distribution costs have been saved by eliminating paper-based processes.

With the massive growth in fixed and mobile telecommunications, billing is a major challenge for all network operators. The move to electronic invoicing not only cuts costs and streamlines the invoicing process but also reduces the carbon footprint for telcos. However, it is also essential that the process is completely secure and Thales technology has a major roll to play in delivering protection and a secure audit trail.

Company Profiles

Si.mobil-Vodafone is part of Mobilkom Austria the mobile division of Telekom Austria Group. The group connects more than 15 million mobile customers across central and eastern Europe.

  • First mobile operator in Slovenia to enable fast data transfer using EDGE technology
  • First mobile operator in Slovenia to offer broadband mobile internet through its own UMTS/HSDPA network
  • Products and services include GPS-based navigation solutions, business messaging services and mobile internet services
  • More than 500,000 users in Slovenia

SETCCE is focused on developing cutting edge products and services for business process dematerialization. The introduction of paperless business has to follow strict legislative frameworks and rely on the latest technology standards. SETCCE’s goal is to promote and support electronic business practice which is in line with national and European legislation and compatible with international standards.