accounts receivable

A step back in time: the origin of invoices and accounts receivable

Invoices are an essential part of any business, as they were in the past. And invoicing is vital to companies if they want to get paid and maintain their liquidity. If we take a look back in time, we realize that businesses have always relied on accounting processes. Accounts receivable weren’t just invented yesterday—in fact, they’re even older than you think . . . Let’s have a look at the origin of invoices!

First invoice created more than 7000 years ago

The oldest accounting-type document dates back to Mesopotamia some 7000 years ago. It wasn’t exactly an invoice but a list of expenses and the goods exchanged between two individuals.

It also seems there is a close link between the origin of writing, mathematics and bookkeeping. Many experts attribute the oldest writing in the world to a purchase receipt. The need for writing increased along with the need for managing inventory and trade.

First business accounting software appears in 1955

The first accounting activities go back to the 15th century. Italian Luca Pacioli was the first to publish a description of the double-entry bookkeeping system of the time.

Of course, accounting continued to evolve until another pivotal moment in its history: the launch of bookkeeping machines in the 19th century. From that time on, technology continued to shape bookkeeping practices.

Yet it was not until 1955 that accounting software was introduced in a private company.

French term “facture” is Latin-based

Although accounting dates back several thousand years, the French term “facture” is a bit more recent. It was coined in the 16th century, and stems from the Latin term “factura”, which means “making”. Meanwhile, the English term “invoice” seems to be based on the French “envoys”, now spelled “envois” (mail), defined as the act of sending something.

The future of invoicing is digital

Invoices and accounts receivable continue to evolve with technology. Gone are the days of punch cards, which helped pave the way for information technology in business. Yet paper hasn’t gone the way of the dinosaur. With today’s businesses making the switch to digital, processes are increasingly automated and digitized.

According to an estimate by Billentis, invoices will continue to develop in the same direction. The global e-invoicing market is expected to reach US$17.4 billion by 2024, with its current value estimated at $3.6 billion.

Since businesses can’t operate without invoices, they’re always on the lookout for tools and techniques to make their accounts receivable processes faster and more efficient. This may seem like an arduous task, but Objectif Lune can help. Ask for a free consultation with one of our advisors to find out how to optimize your accounts receivable processes!