In February this year, Tradeshift launched, and TechCrunch Europe's editor Mike Butcher described it as: "One of the most potentially disruptive startups of the last ten years". Why? Because it wanted to make e-business transactions free across its entire network, but also legally binding - a direct challenge to businesses which make dosh from banking systems and credit card processing.
Now, it's shaking up e-invoicing. Today it has re-launched its enterprise e-invoicing service by making it completely free to any company, not just SMEs, and for any transaction volume. Tradeshift claims to be the "world's first open business network which combines financial infrastructure with social network technology".
What does that mean? It means transactions are easy to handle and partners can be managed online through network profiles. Larger enterprises are able to offer suppliers a user friendly alternative to paper invoices or through larger portals.
But until now, free invoicing, while available, hasn't had the pushing power that Tradeshift has. The bloke behind XML is on-board - John Bosak - as is early Skype investor Morten Lund. Ironically
Lund went personally bankrupt a couple of years ago but Tradeshift has been going from strength to strength, headed up by ex Danish government e-commerce supremo Christian Lanng.
A spokesperson says Tradeshift's free e-invoicing strategy will "undermine the whole basis for expensive business-banking" as well as "all other fee-paying e-invoicing services out there".
Chief Enthusiast at Tradeshift, Svend Mikael Hansen, tells us that the free e-invoicing platform will not prove a double edged sword for Tradeshift's services. "The business involves much more than just invoicing, whereas the invoicing part is the free part. This is vital in order to be able to take advantage of the other offerings we have."
Those other offerings include purchase orders, ways to issue purchase orders to suppliers, supply chain communications, communicating directly next to the exchanged document instead of long email chains and a constantly updated database.
Tradeshift cites a competitor, on a company level, OB10 which is operating on an Electronic Data Interchange and is a "closed garden". Hansen forwards us this graphic, detailing competitor offers and Tradeshift's.
Essentially, with the services it offers - and especially with its free e-invoicing, it is taking on major targets for e-business, as Mike Butcher suggested earlier this year. And we're assured that, while the move is to draw in further business, the e-invoicing service will remain free.