in Announcements

Improvements to our CSV exports

At GoCardless we make recurring payments invisible for tens of thousands of organisations. We know that small details can make all the difference and we’re committed to continuously improving our service. We’re also very aware that although the changes we make improve our service for countless customers, some users need time to adapt to them.

This is particularly true of the exports available from our dashboard. These help make it easy for GoCardless customers to reconcile their accounts and keep track of how much they have collected. Many of our merchants use exports regularly and build processes around them, so we often receive feedback on how to make them more valuable.

We’ve reviewed this feedback and we’re making a few tweaks. These are designed to:

  • Add extra information to make exports more useful for common tasks
  • Make sure the format for exports is as stable as possible
  • Add the ability to improve exports while minimising customer impact

What’s changing?

In most cases – nothing! We’ve made some improvements behind-the-scenes to make the format of these exports more stable and reduce the time to export larger files.

We’ve also added new information to provide more useful reporting to our users:

  • We’ve added the customer data to payment and mandate exports from the events page, so it’s easy to reconcile which payments have failed
  • We’ve added details such as the payment reference and customer metadata to our payout summary export, so you can get all the information you need in one place

We’ve also fixed the date format in the exports so that it’s now fully readable by popular spreadsheet software packages, meaning you can filter and sort our exports by date

The column order in some exports is changing slightly to accommodate the new information and to provide a fixed order by moving optional elements like metadata to the end.

One of our most popular types of export is the payouts export. This comes in three types, so we’ve added a menu system to make navigation easier. From the payouts page you can export a list of payouts:

Exporting a list of payouts

After clicking on an individual payout, you can then export our recommended summary with fees, or click to access a list of the related events:

Exporting payout details

As part of this change we’re also increasing the security of our exports by making all exports downloadable to your computer via your browser using a secure connection.

When is it changing?

We’re launching the new exports this week. We know that many of our customers have built workflows using our exports, and some might be affected by the changes. To reduce the impact of this we’re making the previous version available for a transition period. When you click to export a report you’ll automatically download the new version, but the old versions will still be available at the click of a button until 12th October.

We hope these changes to our exports improve and enhance your GoCardless experience. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected].

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in Business

A day in the life of a GoCardless software engineer

I’m Tim, and I’m a software engineer at GoCardless. I’ve been here for about four and a half years. I work on our UX team, building customer-facing bits of GoCardless, such as our dashboard and developer API. My team focuses on making them as powerful and easy to use as possible.

The early days

I first joined the team back in 2012, just a few months after GoCardless had launched into beta. I was attracted by the boldness of what the company was trying to do: making life better for small businesses and disrupting banks’ traditional monopoly. Since then I’ve worked in a variety of roles across the company, from setting up and running our customer support operation to running our partnerships team, to where I am now.

On a typical day, I travel in from my flat south of the Thames and arrive in the office at about 8:20am. I’ll usually spend about 40 minutes catching up with my emails and doing little things on my to-do list while it’s still quiet in the office. Then I go to the gym across the road for a run or to lift some weights. Keeping fit is really important to me and I notice the difference in my productivity.

Once I get back to the office, the UX team starts its day with a “stand-up”. There, we spend about ten minutes as a team sharing what we were working on yesterday, what we’re planning to work on today and raising any areas where help would be useful or where something is blocking us from making progress. Next, I grab some breakfast (there’s a big choice provided by the company!) and a cup of tea before getting back to work.

We usually work on projects in small teams of three or four people - this means we can bounce ideas off of each other, pair programme (where two people work together on the same piece of code), review one another’s work and make progress as quickly as possible.

Connecting and communicating

Most recently, I’ve been leading a project improving our CSV exports. Our customers, especially larger ones, rely on these for their reporting and reconciliation. As a small project team, we scope out the projects, and then divide up the work between us, working in two week “sprints” towards our goal.

I’ve been writing the backend code in Ruby, which builds the CSVs in just the right format. One of our brilliant interns, Henri, has been working on the frontend interface in JavaScript and HTML, which our customers see, getting lots of support from me to get up to speed on our codebase and make the right design decisions.

Throughout the project, I’ve been working with others across the company (usually over a coffee!) - for example, I’ve been in regular contact with one of our salespeople, Michael, and one of our Support team, James, to work out exactly how the CSVs should look to meet our customers needs. I’ve also been working with our Product Lead, Duncan, to work out how we should communicate the changes we’re making to users. Henri has stayed connected with our Design team to make sure the customer experience looks and feels as good as possible.

I hugely enjoy interacting with people across the company. The people are brilliant and it’s interesting to hear about what others are working on. It’s also good to think about how a little investment from engineers like myself could make day-to-day working lives much more efficient for people here. We’re always looking to improve processes and reduce manual work, so people have more time to do what they do best.

Flexible working and side projects

I’ll usually power through work from 10am until about 3pm, and then grab a late lunch at about 3pm (I’m invariably too engrossed in my work to eat until then!). Once I’ve eaten, I’ll get back to work for the last few hours of the day before usually going home at about 6pm (although sometimes I’ll stick around if there’s something I’m particularly enjoying and am keen to keep working on!).

I love working at GoCardless. I’m incredibly fortunate to work in a company packed full of incredibly smart people, to have flexibility to work how I want to (whether that means heading to a coffee shop to work sometimes, going to the gym in the middle of the day or working lying on a sofa) and to get to constantly improve a product used by tens of thousands of people.

If you want to be a software engineer somewhere as great as GoCardless, I’d recommend one big thing: play around with side projects. I’ve worked on lots of fun projects in my spare time from a tool to help people use their air miles are effectively to an open-source API library for Rap Genius. These kinds of things are great fun, give you lots more experience of writing code and look great on your CV.

Growth and…we’re hiring!

GoCardless is growing fast - and we need a lot of great people to help us continue that growth. Our Engineering team is hiring, so if you like what you've been reading, why not take a look at our careers page.

Interested in joining the GoCardless team?
We're hiring
in Business

What makes an awesome company culture?

The world of work has come a long way over the last decade.

Where once employees were expected to suit up and bring their most serious work face to the office, these days it’s more about artisanal coffee, flexible working, and regular company events.

Call it a hangover from the tech startups of Silicon Valley, but whatever the source, employee expectations of work have changed. There’s no going back.

Our parents and grandparents grew up in a world where your studies led you into a job for life. If you were lucky, your boss would present you with a gold watch when you retired. In those days people used to think that security was the most important element of a job.

But today’s workforce sees things differently. For them, driven by legions of technological advances and global opportunities, companies are compelled to offer more than simply job security. Employees are looking for meaning. And they find it in the culture of the company they work for.

A good company culture can have many benefits; both for the company itself and for the employees. What’s more, the two are intricately linked.

Culture defines a company; it’s the beating heart that keeps the company alive. Culture is the values and attitudes that drive the company. Ideally, these should be aligned with the values and attitudes of the people who work there.

When culture is unhealthy it reflects on the way people work together. They tend to work purely for the salary and benefits. They may have less loyalty to the company and be constantly on the lookout for something new.

On the other hand, a company with a healthy culture values everyone on the team, supports their goals, and develops an environment of inclusivity and collaboration.

In return, employees feel valued. They feel that the company has their best interests at heart. This fosters team spirit and boosts performance naturally. Great culture also brings many benefits for employees, from boosting motivation to enhancing their quality of life.

After all, we spend a large chunk of our lives in the office - it has a massive effect on life quality. What’s more, happy employees are quick to become company advocates, which can help us to hire more great people!

For the company, building a strong and positive culture brings great benefits too.

Having an awesome culture helps companies to:

  • Build a positive reputation
  • Develop good productivity
  • Keep quality of their service or product high
  • Attract and retain the best talent!

At GoCardless, culture is at the heart of everything we do.

"The culture is super trusting, collaborative and open. As soon as you start at GoCardless, you’re given the freedom to work flexibly, and the trust to do it well. We care immensely about enabling people to produce work that they’re proud of, rather than checking what time they walk into the office,” says Jess Summerfield, Head of People.

The hiring process at GoCardless focuses not only on your skills, but on the characteristics you bring to the table as an individual.

If we hire you, we’ll do everything we can to improve your skillset, all the way from supporting additional training to encouraging you to get involved in all kinds of cross-departmental projects. We also encourage employees to pursue their interests outside of work, from computer science to Mandarin Chinese!

GoCardless cares about doing brilliant work, and to enable this, we need to give people an awesome place to do just that.

That doesn't just mean sorting out the aesthetics. A nice office is great, but culture means letting people learn and develop in the best ways for them, giving them autonomy, ownership and a sense of purpose.

Jess says: “The culture fit side of the interview process is as important, if not more important, than the role fit side of it. The top piece of feedback that we get from the team is that it's the people who make GC an awesome place to work, and we want to keep it that way!

“We don’t want to hire people that are the same as us - far from it - but rather that we want to hire people who care about the same things that we do. I've seen the team grow from 35 people to 85 people over the past two years, and it's been a complete privilege to work with such a big group of amazing, talented people."

At GoCardless, diversity is key. We have a real mix of employees from a range of backgrounds, but the one thing is common is our company culture. We also have a high percentage of female employees for a tech company - 23% and rising! For the future, we’re focusing on growing this number even further.

To see some of our team talking about life at GoCardless, check out our video on Zealify.

Like what you see and read? We’re hiring! Why not take a look at our latest vacancies.

Interested in taking payments with GoCardless?
Sign up here!
in Business

How to get paid more quickly this summer

The grey skies of London don’t look especially promising as August dawns today. But here at GoCardless HQ, we hope to brighten your day just a little by exploring ways to get your incoming payments under control. Wouldn’t it be great to have extra cash in the pipeline, just in time for summer?

For many small businesses, late paying customers are a constant headache.

Chasing them wastes valuable time and manpower. But even worse, late payments affect your cash flow. This may cause your business to miss out on important opportunities simply because of a lack of available cash. It’s frustrating to send yet another payment reminder on an overdue invoice, only to be met with an excuse, or even worse, with complete silence.

At GoCardless, we specialise in taking payments by Direct Debit. So we firmly believe this is the most effective method for accepting recurring payments. Direct Debit allows you to take control of your payments and get paid on time. Here are a number of additional tips to handle late-paying customers and retrieve the money you’re owed.

Tips to get paid more quickly

  • Make sure that your payment terms are clear right from the start. State terms on your contract and repeat them on every invoice you send to customers. This should include the full amount, the due date, and any late payment penalties (yes, we’ll get to those shortly).

  • Send your invoice as soon as you complete the work. Some people do forget, especially those lacking an automatic invoicing setup. There’s no room for delay when it comes to getting paid.

  • State late payment penalties and make sure you use them. You’re covered by UK law for this, so don’t forget your rights.

  • Chat to your customer about possible reasons for late payment. You’d be surprised at the difference a phone call can make. You may well discover an unexpected problem and can then work with the customer to resolve it and get paid.

  • Make it easy for your customers by letting them choose their preferred payment method. Then set up a system where they can pay you instantly if they want to, send them payment reminders before payment is due, and make sure your payment information is displayed clearly and accurately on every invoice.

  • Try out credit control solutions such as Satago or Chaser. These can be integrated into your accounting workflow. They automatically email customers when an invoice becomes overdue. Businesses that use them report getting paid up to 23 days faster.

  • Consider using invoice factoring to fund your cash flow. Currently used by 45,000 UK businesses, invoice factoring involves selling invoices at a discount to a third party, either a bank or an independent factoring provider such as MarketInvoice. These services unlock funds tied up in unpaid invoices so that your business gets paid without waiting for customers to pay first.

And finally (you knew it was coming!) why not encourage your customers to set up automatic payments by Direct Debit? It’s especially useful for regular recurring payments as well as automatically taking payments on invoices and makes sure that you never miss a payment again. That keeps your cash flow in good shape.

At GoCardless we use advanced technology to make Direct Debit accessible to businesses of all sizes, not just large organisations. Now even sole traders can take advantage of the benefits of the UK’s most reliable payment system.

We hope you can use some of our payment tips to improve your business situation this summer. Using GoCardless lets you take full control of your payments. To learn more about how we can help you, click here.

Interested in taking payments with GoCardless?
Sign up here!
in Business

A day in the life of our Head of Legal

I’m the Head of Legal at GoCardless. My role is really varied so there’s no such thing as a typical or predictable day for me - I get involved in all kinds of tasks from designing a new contract management system through to reviewing foreign law advice on our international expansion.

Starting the day strong (and a little bit bruised)

I love to exercise and try to fit it in each morning - I think it’s a key part of my day and helps me feel energised. For the past three months I’ve been taking part in CrossFit at CrossFit CityRoad - it’s great but a real challenge; I’m using muscles I didn’t even think I had, and the ones I have seem useless!

After my workout, I’ll head into the office where I’ll make breakfast before checking my emails. There’s a pretty amazing selection of breakfast foods, with (literally) dozens of choices of granola. I try not to succumb to granola temptation, and typically have scrambled eggs on a bagel.

I receive a regular stream of email updates on the latest legal news and will read those over breakfast. Payments law is a relatively niche area, and not one in which I had experience before joining GoCardless, so I’m enjoying sharpening my regulatory skills.

After breakfast I look at my priorities for the week, which are set in a stand-up with the operations team every Monday. I’ll prepare a schedule for the day thinking about how to achieve those weekly goals while fitting them in around my various meetings.

Keeping ahead of hot topics

In terms of what I'm working on, there's always long-term proactive thinking about how the legal landscape is changing and what we need to do to put GoCardless in the best possible position. One super-hot topic right now is data protection.

Following the Snowden revelations, people's concerns have really intensified over who could access their data and what they might do with it. There have been a number of knock-on effects, such as the European Court of Justice finding EU-US Safe Harbor ineffective, making it far harder to transfer data out of Europe to the US. At GoCardless, we’re striving to set a great example when it comes to customer data - we think a good benchmark is treating that data as if it was our own personal data.

It’s such an important issue and takes a lot of work to get right - immediate internal work, but also trying to predict what will happen in the future. With data protection law and technology constantly changing we need to make sure we are ahead of the game.

Another area of focus is payments regulation, which is also changing rapidly, as regulators and the legislative process rush to keep up with the pace of financial innovation. The UK & the EU are forward-thinking and progressive in terms of allowing innovative structures such as ours in order to prosper, but they don’t always get things right off the bat. As a result, there’s a lot of lobbying to be done,and a lot of fresh thinking around how the services we provide fit within regulations that don’t necessarily contemplate our particular offering.

Finally, Brexit brings its own unique set of challenges. I can say that we’re committed to ensuring that we continue to serve our European customers without interruption. That might mean becoming regulated in another EU member state - a challenge we’re well equipped to rise to.

It’s all about collaboration

On top of those on-going projects, day-to-day I normally have multiple meetings with the guys and girls in the sales team to help them close deals. The open-plan structure of the office makes it really easy to chat with those from other departments - whether that’s sales, marketing or the engineering team. There are sofas and seating areas dotted around if we fancy getting away from our desks, and little booths if you need to get your head down and focus.

As Head of Legal it’s crucial that I know what’s going on and have a good overview of the business, so having sofa meetings and grabbing one too many coffees (there are many coffee options available!) with different departments is a vital part of my role. Only by knowing what’s going on can I be effective in planning and negotiating.

I’ll sometimes hop on a conference call with a merchant who’s looking to use us - it’s then that I’m grateful that we have put in the hard work around customer data protection, as there’s nearly always intense discussion on the point and having a strong story really helps alleviate any concern.

Often my colleagues from other departments come over for a chat. For example, the marketing team might need some legal advice on a new promotional idea, or perhaps I’ll be asked to chime in on a funky collaboration that the partnerships team have come up with. It’s never boring!

The longer commercial negotiations, for example where we want to partner with another payment provider or financial institution, tend to be the most complicated ones as there are so many moving parts, and at least two regulated entities with their own legal concerns. Throw different countries in the mix, and you have a good amount of complexity to work through.

Having this high level of daily interaction at work is really important for me - I really love working with super-smart people, and there’s a lot of them at GoCardless. That being said, there’s a fair amount of teaching to be done when you’re an in-house lawyer.

The law isn’t always crystal clear, meaning that you need to simplify complex issues and relate abstract ideas to the business issues in hand, rather than firing off an email attaching a 10-page advice note that draws a purely legal conclusion.

Growth and… we’re hiring!

I also spend a lot of time planning for future needs, and expanding the team. GoCardless is going through an exciting growth phase at the moment, and we have a lot of great people to find to help us continue that growth - the legal team is no different! If you like what you hear, why not take a look at our careers page.

Interested in joining the GoCardless team?
We're hiring