Pilot project makes paying invoices easier for seniors

The City of Helsinki is launching a pilot project with Finance Finland (FFI) in November. The pilot lasts six months and is aimed at senior residents who receive invoices from Helsinki social and health care services. The aim of the project is twofold: facilitating seniors’ invoice payment and also improving the efficiency of the city’s financial management services.

The City of Helsinki Financial Management Services (Talpa) wants to increase the use of e-invoicing and direct debiting in the invoicing of social and health care services. The target group for e-invoicing are customers who already use online banking services.

“Now that Helsinki has taken direct debiting into use, customers without access to online banking services can also benefit from electronic payments. Direct debit is a modern option for customers without the tools, skills or capacity to use online services”, says Process Administrator Anita Andsten from Talpa.

The collaborative pilot project promotes the advantages of electronic payments, aiming to encourage and support ageing customers in switching from paper invoices to e-invoicing.

“Because digital money transfer removes the need to carry cash, it also improves seniors’ safety”, says Kristiina Siikala, head of development at FFI. Siikala is also a member in a steering group working to reduce financial exploitation of the elderly.

Andsten points out that electronic invoicing has significant advantages also for financial management: it considerably reduces typing errors and payment delays caused by change of address, for example. E-payments in general are also more beneficial for the climate.

While Helsinki has offered e-invoicing as an option already since 2007, consumers have been slow to switch over from paper invoicing. In 2018, e-invoices comprised about 30% of the 1.2 million invoices sent by the city’s various sectors and municipal enterprises. Only some 14% of the invoices sent to social and health care service customers were electronic.

The pilot participants hope that with the project, information on the benefits and advantages of electronic payments is better received by the target group. The final report of the pilot project will compile the undertaken measures and present recommendations for increasing electronic payments in Helsinki, but will also aim at recommendations that can be applied in other Finnish municipalities as well.

Participants in the planning of the pilot project were the City of Helsinki Financial Management Services (Talpa), Finance Finland (FFI), Helsinki Elderly Citizens Council, Helsinki Senior Info, Kamppi service centre, and Kaapelin Mediakeskus.