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What to look for in a Direct Debit service provider

If you’re considering outsourcing your Direct Debit collections or you are reviewing your current Direct Debit provider, make sure you’re getting the right service for you.

A specialist Direct Debit management service will take care of the whole process for you, from start to finish, so you save valuable time, money and resources. But, with a lot of bureaux all offering variations and ranges of services to choose from, how do you know which one will work for you?

Here is our quick guide on what to look for in a Direct Debit service provider:

1. Credentials

Bacs is the organisation responsible for the clearing and settlement scheme for all UK Direct Debits. Ensure your Direct Debit service provider has passed the official Bacs audit and has achieved ‘Approved Bureau’ status. Find out their scores across the 5 key areas:

  • Bureau Organisation and Financial Information
  • Physical Security
  • Computer Operations
  • Application and Systems Support
  • Bureau Processing and Operations

Make sure that that your money and reputation is in safe hands by also checking that an organisation has sound financial reports.

2. Data security

A Bacs approved bureau will be compliant with and meet the standards set by Bacs, but it’s also a good idea to explore any third party’s levels of data protection.

Look out for specific industry standards accreditations, such as ISO27001 Information Security and ISO9001 Quality Management, which mean you can be sure your data will be handled securely and with the highest integrity.

Check too that your supplier implements the following

  • back up servers, in multiple locations separate to the business operations
  • the use of high level encryption, and
  • regular PEN testing for maximum protection (Penetration Testing is an authorised simulated cyber-attack on a computer system, performed to evaluate security).

3. Contingency planning

Contingency planning and disaster recovery are key areas that are often overlooked so ask what happens if there are technical problems, power cuts, or even a security threat. How will your business continuity be guaranteed?

And for the more physical yet no less serious threat, ensure your provider has a recovery plan in case of fire, flood or theft. What is their disaster recovery plan and what this would mean for your payments and your data.

4. Check their fees

Comparing fees from various different bureaux can be confusing. However, becoming a direct submitter to your bank and managing the Direct Debit process in-house can also be very costly with the set up fees, costs of processing, software updates and staff resources and training.

To help with your assessment, key areas to check with a bureau are whether they charge for customer support, if they offer volume discounts, and whether there are any hidden additional fees.

Bear in mind too that using a bureau means that your internal teams will no longer need to chase up late payments or resolving issues, saving valuable time and money and allowing your staff to get on with other work priorities.

5. Customer service

Handing over the collection and management of your cashflow can be daunting, so you need reassurance that any questions or problems will be solved efficiently and quickly.

Ask if you will have a dedicated Account Manager with in-depth industry knowledge who you can build an effective partnership with – it’s always easier to deal with the same contact who knows your business and your needs.

Also, does the bureau have a call centre designed to handle a high volume of calls quickly? And be sure to ask whether phone support is an extra they charge for, or whether it is free as part of the service.

6. Tailored to you

Make sure you can make collections on multiple dates each month that suit your organisation. Also ensure that the Direct Debit provider can provide customised reports that can integrate with your inhouse systems for greater automation and improved efficiency. Nobody should be spending time uploading report files or manually keying in data!

Similarly, find out how much control you have over your data. You may be able to gain instant access to your payers via an online dashboard or secure portal, enabling you to add new payers, view and cancel payments, helping you manage relationships directly, which can all help give your payers a better experience.

7. Branding and payer engagement

Having an unfamiliar name appear on a bank statement is known to lead to a higher number of Direct Debit cancellations, affecting your income.

Ensure your supplier can guarantee that your organisation’s name appears on your payers’ bank statements, and all communications carry your branding. This is crucial to developing and maintaining engagement with your payers.


Rapidata is part of The Access Group and is a Bacs approved bureau with the highest possible rating from Bacs across all 5 areas. We are certified with ISO 27001 in Information Security Management, ISO 9001 in Quality Management and ISO 22301 in Business Continuity Management, giving our clients peace of mind that their data is handled with the highest standards of security and integrity.

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Posted by Jackie Lawrence on 16/04/2019 within Direct Debit

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