Two, Three and Four Corner Models

There are three different models of e-document transfer used today.

The different models of e-invoicing transfer move hand in hand with the evolution of e-invoicing.  At the inception of e-invoicing where only EDI was used the 2-corner model was the way in which two organisations directly exchanged data.  This moved forward, as other methods of e-invoicing entered the market the service provider became the 3rd corner between the supplier and buyer.  Today as we see the concept and development  of pan-european and global networks the 4-corner model has arrived.

The 2-corner model

The 2-corner model is a P2P (peer to peer) process where the supplier and buyer directly share e-documents with each other’s systems using EDI or XML files.

2 corner model

The 3-corner model

The 3-corner model is where the supplier/buyer use the same third party service provider to process e-documents that pass between them. The third-party service provider can run their services through software or in the cloud and may offer services such as OCR, data extraction and mapping or data validation before producing the EDI and XML files required.

3 corner model

The 4 -corner model

The 4-corner model is where the supplier/buyer use different service providers to process e-documents that pass between them. Within this model both service providers can either run their services through software or in the cloud and offer the additional services of OCR, data extraction and mapping or data validation to their client. In the 4-corner model the service provider will also need to work with the other clients’ service provider to transfer the documents.

This can be likened to the model used for mobile telephones where each mobile phone is assigned to a network supplier and they must work together to connect their client.  The service providers have agreed to be interoperable, so that once a supplier is connected to a network they become part of the wider network and can exchange documentation with any buyer on the network.

4 corner model

PEPPOL (Pan European Public Procurement Online)

PEPPOL is a European initiative based on the 4-corner model that enables companies and government organisations (such as the NHS) to exchange e-documents over an interoperable, European-wide network. Simply it offers a standardised network to connect business and organisations for electronic ordering, shipping and invoicing. Users will be able to connect to all other users through Certified Access Points. Each user will have their own unique identifier or address, like how phone numbers work.

Find out more about CloudTrade's PEPPOL Certified Access Point services for:  

NHS buyers     NHS Suppliers

Read more about PEPPOL at

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