Anglo-Danish technology start-up Tradeshift has secured an ally in its attempt to create a Facebook-style network for businesses, by having US software supplier Intuit market its online billing service to five million potential customers.
Under the terms of the deal, Intuit will take a small stake in Tradeshift and encourage users of the QuickBooks accounting software to settle bills and communicate with clients via Tradeshift’s social network.
Tradeshift’s aim is to put an end to paper-based invoicing and payment chasing. Since it was launched two years ago, more than 150,000 organisations in 190 countries have signed up to it – including the National Health Service in the UK.
Tradeshift said the tie-up with Intuit, whose QuickBooks accounting software is used by 80 per cent of US companies, provides an opportunity to leapfrog its main rival Ariba, owned by SAP.
Christian Lanng, Tradeshift’s co-founder and chief executive, said: “The value of any communications network increases directly in proportion to the number of users. And when it reaches a point where it includes most of the people you want to interact with, something amazing happens.”
Tradeshift said it was signing up between 1,000 and 2,000 suppliers a week, and about one-third of its users were in the US.
The company has a long way to go in converting companies to electronic transaction and interaction: an estimated 84 per cent of all invoicing it still done manually on paper.