in Business

Direct Debit flies ahead for UK subscriptions

Subscription services have really taken off in the UK in the last few years. With so many of us feeling increasingly squeezed for time, we take enthusiastic advantage of having our essentials delivered to our door, whenever we want them. Thanks to the internet age, busy people can now subscribe to all manner of products and services, from the traditional magazine and newspaper subscriptions to more random, slightly quirkier items such as underwear, makeup, or even bacon!

With all these subscriptions (and rashers of bacon) flying about, how do people usually pay for them? We at GoCardless were in a curious mood recently. So we decided to gather some opinions from across the country about how people prefer to pay for their favourite subscriptions. What we found out not only surprised us, but also encouraged us.

We commissioned YouGov to conduct a survey for us, exploring the UK’s favourite subscription payment methods. We wanted to know how comfortable people were with using different payment methods to pay for their digital or physical subscriptions. This could be any product or service for which they pay a regular monthly fee. Here’s what YouGov found out.

Out of the sample of 2,044 UK adults surveyed, Direct Debit emerged as the most popular payment method, which people felt most comfortable using. Direct Debit has been around for a long time and is considered old-fashioned by some. But nevertheless it’s also seen as reliable and well-trusted. In fact, it’s the UK’s favourite payment method and its usage continues to grow.

Direct Debit enjoys a strong reputation throughout the UK, especially because customers are protected by the reliable Direct Debit guarantee. On top of this, Direct Debit is also very simple to set up and involves no effort after the initial set-up - money is just taken automatically from your account on the specified day. Unlike credit and debit cards, there is no need to update your details.

To put the results in context, here’s a breakdown of how credit cards, debit cards, and PayPal fared against Direct Debit.

According to the data, credit cards were the method people were least comfortable with using to pay their subscriptions. A quarter of the sample said they were ‘not at all comfortable’ paying by credit card. Responses were measured on a scale of 0–10, with 0 being ‘not at all comfortable and 10 being ‘extremely comfortable’. At the opposite extreme, 20% of respondents said they were extremely comfortable paying by credit card.

Next up was PayPal, another payment option commonly offered by UK subscriptions companies. 19% of people said it was the method they were least comfortable with, but 25% rated it top, saying they were ‘extremely comfortable’ with it.

Debit cards scraped in very close to PayPal, with 18% finding them the least comfortable method, and 25% the most comfortable. There’s not much to choose from between the two methods.

But the clear winner in this survey was Direct Debit. People are clearly very happy using Direct Debit to pay for their subscriptions. Only 14% said it was the least comfortable method for them, while a whopping 32% rated it top, saying they were extremely comfortable using it.

For subscription providers, the clear takeaway here is that you really can’t afford not to include Direct Debit among your payment choices for new subscribers. With GoCardless, you can manage all payments seamlessly, taking advantage of low fees, flexible timings and a fully-automated system. The sign-up process is quick and easy with no minimum term. We even integrate with popular accounting packages including Sage, QuickBooks and Xero.


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,044 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 6th - 7th September 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

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in Announcements

We've launched a brand new Support Centre

We know how important it is to be able to source information quickly when needed so you can focus on what matters most, your business. That’s why we’ve been working hard to bring you a brand new Support Centre.

Our aim was simple - to speed up the time it takes to get answers to many of the questions that we’ve found come up fairly frequently.

Of course, you can still contact our support team if you can’t find what you’re looking for or if you would like further clarification on something in particular. However, we hope this will help to save you time when all you need is a quick answer to move forward with the task at hand.

How it works

We wanted to make our new Support Centre as simple and easy to navigate as possible. You can access it at any time by going to support.gocardless.com in your web browser.

The first thing you’ll notice when you open the homepage is a big search bar at the top. Simply type your query in and you’ll be shown matching articles relating to your query. As you type, you’ll also see relevant suggestions popping up below!

If you can’t find what you’re looking for or if you would simply prefer to browse articles for a particular type of query, you can do so via one of the eight category icons found below the search bar.

In making our Support Centre as easy to navigate as possible, we’ve included a few noteworthy features to our article pages.

On the left hand side of each article page you’ll find a column titled Articles in this section. This enables you to navigate between articles within the same category without having to return to the category articles page each time.

If you need to navigate to a different category entirely, the top menu bar will help you do so with minimal fuss. There is a search bar in the top right for if you’d like to type your query straight in. If you want to go back to the Support Centre homepage you can do so by simply clicking the "GoCardless Support" logo in the top left or the Support Centre breadcrumb.

You will also notice that the breadcrumbs include Documentation. If you click this link you will be directed to a page that provides a full overview of all the questions in each of the categories for you to browse. This is perfect for when you’re unsure of which category your query falls into.

Contacting our support team

If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, you can contact our support team directly from within the Support Centre. On the Support Centre homepage, you'll find a button below the icons that will direct you to our contact form.

You can also find a link to this contact form underneath the content of each article, right below where you can let us know whether or not you found that article useful.

All you need to do to submit a query to us is to enter your email address, a subject to briefly outline your query, and a description of your issue. You can also add attachments such as screenshots if it will help.

If, when typing your subject, your query relates to an article in our Support Centre, you will see this pop-up below for you to view if you haven’t done so already, before sending your request.

When getting in touch with us via our contact form, please enter the email address registered to your GoCardless account when possible. You can also add your merchant account name within the description box if applicable.

We will continue to improve our Support Centre moving forward so please do let us know if there’s something else you'd like to see included.

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in Business

Adventures in sales on-boarding

Sales rep Nas SPINs into the GoCardless sales team

I come from a consulting background, so I've always been passionate about the client-facing side of things. So I was excited to take on a sales role where I could help potential clients and sell a tech-related product. Most importantly, I wanted to learn sales from the ground up, so GoCardless really stood out from other fintech start ups.

Even with high expectations, when I walked into GoCardless for the first time as a Sales Development Rep, I didn’t know how varied my on-boarding experience would be. Nor did I realise the number of people I would meet in such a short space of time, or how quickly I would become part of the sales team. In this blog I’ll share with you the training I received, along with some key takeaways from my experience.

Week one: The basics

As soon as I arrived I was welcomed with an office tour, where I met all 70+ people at GoCardless in about ten minutes. I realised it was going to take some time to learn everyone’s names! Week one focused on understanding the payments industry and alternative payment options to Direct Debit. This included one-to-one sessions on:

  • The Product. I had different sessions with each of the Sales team, covering every payment method vs Direct Debit - which meant that information was easy to digest and convert into sound bites once I started taking calls.
  • Sales skills. A SPIN session with George from our Enterprise Sales team helped me practice the consultative approach we use on our initial calls to qualify leads. I had expected the calls to focus on “selling” to the merchant, but instead it was about uncovering our customers’ current processes, pains and product requirements, before evaluating how we can help.
  • Competitor training. Sitting down with Ben from our Enterprise Sales team to talk about our competitors gave me a good idea of the different types of competitors we have, and where we fit in the wider payments industry.
  • Acting on feedback. I practiced mock calls with several members of the Sales team, which ended with a “Key Skill Call Test” at the end of the week. The aim was to prepare me for taking Sales calls. I saw a big improvement by the end of the week!

A highlight at the end of the week was joining Lunch Roulette. Every week, GoCardless chooses six people at random and treats them to lunch at a local restaurant. It was a really nice way to get to know people from other teams over tapas and wine!

Week two: All about GoCardless

Week two focused on our product in more depth. The week was split into five themes:

  • The API. An Introduction to our API taught me how our customers can link payments through GoCardless to their own systems. These sessions were valuable for me to fully understand our product. Luckily I got a lot of support from George before attempting the API test!
  • Our value proposition. Mia, who heads up our Inside and Corporate Sales teams, gave me a detailed overview of our value add, along with the best way to communicate this to customers. It was great to put this knowledge into practice on my first sales calls.
  • Giving demos. This is an important skill for Sales reps to have, as merchants often want to see what the product looks like before they commit. Following a few practice demos I did a final demo for Joe, our Head of Sales Development, at the end of the week. Demonstrating GoCardless to others was a great test of my product knowledge and highlighted gaps for me to focus on.
  • Industry knowledge. I chatted with Duncan from our Partnerships team about the different types of partners we work with, and what criteria we use to evaluate whether we can form a partnership. I didn’t know it at the time, but this knowledge would become very useful once I started taking inbound calls from prospective partners.
  • Support shadowing. I spent some time with Laura in Support listening to calls from existing merchants with technical queries. It was really useful to see the types of questions asked. Some of the calls actually answered my own questions about using the dashboard.

A highlight this week was the Nutmeg Finance Fitness session at the GoCardless bleachers. The Head of Product at Nutmeg showed us some interesting stats on the benefits of saving and investing. It was great to learn about personal finance over lunch (without having to leave the office)!

Week three: Getting technical

This week was exciting! I took my first inbound calls, putting my new skills into practice for the first time. It was great (and unexpected) to be engaging with prospective merchants just two weeks into working at GoCardless. At the same time, my training continued – and the pace quickened. I had one-to-one sessions on:

  • The submissions process. Yoshio from our Inside Sales team showed me how GoCardless makes submissions to BACS – quite a technical process as I quickly found out.
  • Pro vs Standard. I delved deeper into our two products: Standard and Pro. Grey, our VP of Product, showed us our product roadmap and explained how the Product team prioritises projects to improve and enhance our offering.
  • SEPA: an overview. Team France gave me an overview of SEPA (the Bacs equivalent in Europe). This was crucial, especially as we’re growing globally, because the UK Inbound team needs to be able to answer questions from customers about taking international payments.
  • Intro to Outbound. Ross, who heads up our New Business Development Sales team, walked me through the outbound sales process and how we decide on target verticals and companies.

One of the highlights of the week was the all-team event at Dinerama in Shoreditch - an indoor food festival. It was great to get to know people in the company who I hadn’t spoken to yet.

Week four: Becoming an “expert”

After three busy weeks, week four was more strategic and focused on the big picture, including:

  • After SEPA. Ashley, our Head of Expansion, walked me through our expansion plan, what we consider before we expand into a new country and all of the requirements we need to fulfil before we can launch in that market.
  • Direct Debit Ask Me Anything. Throughout my training there were some questions that built up. This was the perfect time to ask them over a strong cup of coffee with Ben from our Enterprise Sales team. I asked him about the Sales process for our larger merchants and how we get buy-in from the important stakeholders.
  • The Balloon Test. The mighty Balloon Test is an industry test on Direct Debit which is the last hurdle of the on-boarding process at GoCardless. Passing the test felt like a small achievement on its own.

As week four drew to a close, I reflected on what I had learned, and how my overall experience compared to expectations. I'd expected to be thrown into the deep end, but that’s not quite what happened. Although GoCardless is still a start up, the training programme is exceptional. There is a big focus on upskilling new joiners to become great at Sales - so although I started taking calls and qualifying opportunities early on, I had numerous one-on-one practice sessions to help me get there.

Four months later, I’m a fully fledged member of the Sales team. But the learning hasn’t stopped. I’ve been working on my Sales skills on enterprise calls, and am now also training new joiners. New challenges come along every day, and I’m looking forward to seeing what my future at GoCardless holds.

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in Business

A summer internship with GoCardless

It's a rainy day in my beloved Scotland and I’m writing these lines from a library cafe. Almost a week has passed since I last paced the floor of the GoCardless office in London. It feels strange to think that my internship has already come to an end. When I applied to GoCardless last winter, it wasn’t the result of an epiphany. I didn’t wake up one morning with the striking realisation that working in fintech would make for an exciting summer. Instead I wanted to learn about maintaining high availability on critical systems, and about the security intricacies involved in handling payments, while getting my hands on Ruby again and doing some Javascript. In short, I wanted to boldly go where I hadn’t gone before.

Diving in

Fast forward a few months to the third of June, a Friday, my first day at GoCardless. I was impressed by how quickly I managed to get some work done. I spent the first few weeks (well, the whole summer really) asking countless questions of my colleagues about the general structure of the codebase, but it was fairly evident that our policy of code review and extensive testing made the code itself very clean and easy to modify. I must admit, I still don’t enjoy writing tests, but if this summer has taught me anything it’s that tests are a wonderful safety net when an undergraduate student like me is pushing code to production. Thanks to our platform team we also have a great docker-based deploy workflow, which was an absolute pleasure to use.

Full stack experience

Over the course of the summer I worked on various projects, both as a backend and as a frontend engineer. The largest one was likely our revamp of CSV exports, which my colleague Tim has written about in detail here. Towards the end of August we organised an office hackathon, two week-days where the whole engineering department worked on various ideas that could be beneficial to the company. Some of us worked on improving the speed of our test suite (for which they got “make tests fast again” baseball caps!!!), while others investigated how we could migrate our dashboard to Typescript and Angular 2. I worked on developing a GraphQL endpoint for our API.

One thing I haven’t yet mentioned is that we use JSON Schema to specify our public and our internal APIs. This is extremely useful: we can automatically generate documentation, REST clients (our PHP client, for example, is auto-generated from that schema).I thought it would be interesting to try to generate a GraphQL schema, which would call our API under the hood and return data in a Relay-compliant format. It was a really interesting experience, and hopefully it will be useful one way or another!

People power

On a lighter note, let me say a few words about the environment. I clearly remember myself looking through our internal team page during my first week. We have a picture, a short biography and an answer to a few questions for each employee (extremely useful for someone as bad with names as I am). One of those questions was “What do you like the most about GoCardless?”, and the number of answers boiling down to “the people” made me chuckle. I do have a slightly misanthropic side, but really, the people? How uninspired. How cliche.

As weeks went by, however, I realised what they all meant. Every single person I worked with was incredibly smart, patient and kind. I cannot emphasise enough how lucky I have been to work in such an environment. It pushes you to go the extra mile, to learn more, with the confidence that if you stumble someone will be there to catch you. Oh and, we’ve got free snacks and drinks.

There are so many more things I would have liked to say but this blog post would quickly turn into my autobiography. I will leave it there. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact [email protected]; ask to be put in touch with me if you would like to know more about interning at GoCardless.

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in Business

Why Global Britain is driving the fintech revolution

The UK’s history of innovation goes back a long way. Ever since the Industrial Revolution, we have carved out a far-reaching global reputation for creative thought and technological excellence. But national reputations only stick if they are backed up by concrete action - and ours has remained solid because we live it every day.

In the world of finance in particular, much of UK innovation has been driven by London. In an environment where technology meets banking heavyweights, it seems a natural progression for fintech companies such as GoCardless to emerge and flourish.

From small acorns

Founded in 2011, GoCardless has been on a quest to create a bank-to-bank payments network that spans the globe. We’ve been internationally focused from the beginning, our ideas guided by the best of Silicon Valley as part of Y Combinator, then brought back to London by British founders.

The GoCardless system is built by working with the banks and gives everyone access to the Direct Debit recurring payments system, previously open only to large firms. This has been a revolution for everyone, from entrepreneurs to enterprises, reducing late payments, improving cashflow and allowing them more space to innovate.

Now, over 20,000 of Europe’s most innovative companies - such as Thomas Cook, the Financial Times, and Box.com - use GoCardless to collect payments with ease, freeing them up to focus on what they do best - creating the best possible experience for customers. This forms a virtuous circle that further strengthens the UK’s reputation for innovation. GoCardless initially focused on businesses in the UK, but quickly expanded to serve those in France, Germany and Spain, via the Bacs and SEPA bank-to-bank payment systems. Our plan is to go global, breaking down international borders to create a new global payments network. We’ll do this by connecting together the Direct Debit systems in different countries into one streamlined whole.

Surrounded by brilliance

London’s culture of innovation plays a vital role in our success as a company. We’re surrounded by great technology firms, all set within a supportive and collaborative environment filled with the brightest international minds. This has helped us form important partnerships with other payments innovators, such as Xero, QuickBooks and Zuora. Working together is a recipe for success when it comes to getting new ideas off the ground. This year GoCardless processed over £1.5 billion worth of payments for tens of thousands of organisations - and we’re growing fast.

Just the beginning

In the wake of Brexit, we’re doubling down our focus on Europe, combining that perspective with a wider global outlook. We’ll keep pursuing the GoCardless vision to create a global payments network - a mission we believe has become more crucial than ever before. To take brand Britain forward in a new direction, every action counts, and we’re proud to be part of it.

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