Cavecom-e sees e-billing project in motion by end-year

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Venezuela's e-commerce chamber Cavecom-e expects to begin implementing an electronic billing system in three to four months, pending government approval, the system's project head Jose Ali Vivas told BNamericas.

On Wednesday, Vivas will present the e-billing system developed by his consulting firm Terabrain Communications to Venezuela's science and technology ministry and state technology promotion agency CNTI.

If approved, congress would then have to modify the data message and electronic signatures law and add some flexibility to the existing legislation on value added taxes, said Vivas, who also sits on Cavecom's board and heads the chamber's research and development center.

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The system would then take about one year to be built, plus another six months for a trial run with companies and agencies including telecoms operators, the port authority of La Guaira and airport customs offices, he said.

Once the pilot wraps up and the system is made available on wide scale, Vivas expects most large corporations to adopt it within six months. Under this time frame the system could enter in wide practice by early 2006 at the soonest.

The project has strong links to the telecoms sector. Local telcos Telcel and Globalstar, and Venezuela's telecoms association Casetel provided support to Terabrain for the project's elaboration.

Furthermore, the project will receive funding from the state's universal telecoms service fund Fidetel, which receives 0.5% of annual telecom revenues and has some US$30mn-40mn in the bank, Vivas said. Other funding may come from the customs agency Seniat, he added.

The government will gain greater fiscal security on the inception of the e-billing system. Vivas confirmed the system will be linked to the tax collection process and noted Venezuela's 138 largest corporations account for about 80% of tax revenue.

Medium sized companies will require about 18 months to generally adapt to the system, while barriers to Internet access will preclude widespread use among small businesses and persons for up to 12 years, Vivas said.

For persons or businesses that do not have computers the system allows transactions to be carried out over the phone or by using text messaging (SMS), he added.

Terabrain designed the system on open standards, meaning any corporation or IT services company can develop customized solutions to operate the system, Vivas said.

Terabrain began working on the project in 1998 and its model has already gained preliminary support from the state e-certification agency Suscerte.