Announcing $22.5m in new funding to build our global payments network

On the back of our record annual growth in the UK and strong traction in new markets, we’re excited to announce that we’ve raised $22.5m from Accel, Balderton Capital, Notion Capital and Passion Capital. We will use this new round of funding to accelerate our creation of the first global bank-to-bank payments network.

Our payments network solves a universal problem; how to bring together recurring payment solutions that remain fragmented across countries. In the past, most businesses using these solutions were domestic, with no need for international reach.

But in our increasingly globalised world this situation is no longer viable, especially with the dramatic growth of global subscriptions and SaaS platforms. As a growing number of businesses go global, they face endless frustrations in managing payments across multiple territories.

GoCardless has the perfect head start to solving one of the financial world’s most enduring challenges. We’ve engineered a way to simply plug recurring payments into existing systems across the world, so businesses can focus on the issues that really matter.

Our users are already collecting payments across the UK, Eurozone and Sweden. Australia and Denmark are coming soon, with more to follow. Over the coming months and years, our mission is to enable businesses around the world to process recurring payments from anywhere, to anywhere - in any currency.

This new funding round is not our only key milestone this year. We now process more than $4bn worth of transactions a year, across more than 30,000 organisations in the UK and Europe.

Our existing partnerships are flourishing, with QuickBooks, Xero and Zuora along with many others, and we’ve just announced a new partnership with Sage.

I’m very excited about our next steps and proud of the hard work we’ve already done to get this far. Our ongoing success is thanks to our incredibly loyal and supportive users, both in the UK and further afield.

Going forward, we plan to use the knowledge we’ve gained in the UK and across Europe to solve a major challenge that affects businesses collecting payments globally. In the process, we’ll be taking another step closer to achieving our vision of building a global payments network for the internet.

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in Announcements

Five SaaSy highlights at SaaStock 2017

GoCardless at SaaStock

It’s that time of year again; when the movers and shakers of the SaaS world come together to explore the best and brightest developments in the field.

SaaStock has quickly become the most important gathering of global SaaS companies in Europe, enabling the SaaS community to learn from one another.

This year, Team SaaStock is bringing 1500 founders, VCs and execs together in beautiful Dublin to learn how to build a category leading B2B SaaS business, while networking and having fun at the same time.

GoCardless is one of the event sponsors, so we’ve put together a run-down of our top five unmissable highlights coming up at SaaStock 2017. They include our selection of most hotly anticipated talks, panels, and social events. We hope to see you there!

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in Engineering, People

Internationalisation and Automation: Interning at GoCardless

Work for GoCardless

As my summer placement draws to a close, I thought I’d reflect on and share my last five months at GoCardless:

I can remember my first morning at GoCardless quite clearly; I was greeted by chocolates, a card (I know, the irony!) signed by the engineering team, a MacBook Pro waiting to be unboxed, and a GoCardless jacket hanging on the back of my chair. I instantly felt very welcome.

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in People

How Marketing and Design teams can feel the love…❤️

Work for GoCardles

Marketing and Design are remarkably similar teams. They’re often seen as the business’s creative arms; fuelled by customer insight, constantly testing and improving their work using data.

A strong bond between these teams is essential to any growing business. Successful lines of communication as well as shared goals and learnings from their projects will enable each team to do their most impactful work.

As a Product Marketer, I work on communication pieces to support new product work, such as in-product copy, web pages, guides, sales decks, and videos. Most of the content I build requires a good amount of design input before it can be used as external facing material. Meaning I rely pretty heavily on design teams to help me do my job well.

At a high-growth company like GoCardless, we have new faces appearing all the time, including in the design and marketing teams. It’s important for teams to establish core ways of working together that won’t get diluted when new people join, or disappear completely when people move on.

To understand how Marketing and Design can work best together, I asked the teams here at GoCardless to think about what's helped or hindered them in the past. I've compiled their advice into the following six tips:

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in People

GoCardless Career Switchers: From office manager to marketing executive

Work for GoCardles

At GoCardless, we believe in supporting our people to develop their strengths in different ways, to help them reach their full potential. Some even end up embarking on a whole new career path while still working at GoCardless.

In our new Career Switchers series we meet some of the GoCardless people who have changed careers during their time with us. First up is Sally, who started out as the GoCardless office manager, then made a big leap into the marketing team.

Who are you?

I'm Sally, I've been at GoCardless for nearly two years. I joined the company almost fresh from university, where I studied Spanish and Portuguese - and got to enjoy living abroad for a year.

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in Announcements, Business

Removing obstacles to Direct Debit bulk changes: action by the regulator

The UK’s Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has just announced a public consultation on whether Bacs should be required to change its Direct Debit rules.

Currently, organisations not sponsored by a Bacs member can use Direct Debit providers/bureaus to maintain Direct Debit payments on their behalf. This includes providers that manage the money flows, as well as the setting up of the Direct Debits themselves (known as FM providers, of which GoCardless is one).

Under current rules, an organisation can request that an outgoing FM provider transfers over all existing Direct Debit mandates to a new provider, known as the bulk change process, but the outgoing FM provider is under no obligation to meet that request.

After almost two years of lobbying, our regulator (the PSR, part of the FCA) has drawn a number of preliminary conclusions, and has set out its intention to require Bacs to implement a rule change. This will ensure bulk changes can’t be blocked by outgoing providers.

Why are bulk changes refused?

Some Direct Debit providers won’t allow their customers to bulk change to GoCardless - for no good reason. This is bad for merchants, their customers, and the industry as a whole. Since late 2015, our legal team, armed with evidence and insights from our customers and support team, has been working hard to bring this unfair and anti-competitive practice to an end.

PSR public consultation

GoCardless initially raised the issue with the aforementioned providers, but with no luck. Having pursued the issue as far as possible with our sponsor bank, and Bacs themselves, we turned to the regulator. We first wrote to the Payment Systems Regulator in early 2016, setting out the issue, and our view of the impact on the payments ecosystem. That was followed by a series of meetings with the PSR and consultations by Bacs.

The PSR can require Bacs to implement a change to the scheme rules if it deems a change necessary to further the PSR's purposes: to promote the interests of users, to promote competition, and to promote innovation.

Therefore, following our meetings, we wrote a second letter to the PSR, asking them to consider requiring Bacs to implement a new rule for the Direct Debit scheme. This would make using the bulk change process mandatory if requested by the incoming Direct Debit provider, and the FM provider client (i.e. the merchant).

Changing the rules around switching

The result of this is the PSR's public consultation on switching Direct Debit FM provider. In summary, the PSR has provisionally agreed that the current regulations are unfair and inappropriate, and is looking to require Bacs to change the rules. This change will require existing Direct Debit FM provider to use the bulk change process unless certain exceptions apply.

We would urge all affected businesses, customers and Direct Debit providers to read and respond to the consultation. If you as a merchant experience any issues when trying to switch away from your current Direct Debit provider, please contact the PSR here.

Our view

"We believe that every business should be able to choose and move between payment providers freely. In fact, a process to enable efficient switching has existed for some time,” said our head of legal, Ahmed Badr.

“Unfortunately, we’ve encountered multiple instances of Direct Debit providers exploiting a loophole in the scheme rules that allows them to effectively prevent clients switching to a new provider.” he continued.

“This leaves clients stuck using a less than ideal service against their will, stifling competition and innovation in the process.

"At GoCardless, we see no justification for these exploitative practices and fundamentally believe they shouldn’t be allowed. In 2017, business customers expect the same choice and freedom of movement as they have in their personal banking lives.

"We took this issue up with the PSR almost two years ago, so are happy to see them publishing a public consultation. We urge all affected businesses, customers and direct debit providers to read and respond to it."

Our commitment

We commit in our Merchant Agreement, and have done for some time, to helping you - our customers, switch providers, including through the use of the bulk change process, if you choose to do so. We're confident you won't want to.

Find out more about bulk changes
Check out our guide
in Engineering

Our 2017 internal hackathon: what we built

GoCardless Internal Hackathon 2017

On Friday 25th July, we held 2017’s annual GoCardless internal hackathon.

In a hackathon, a small team comes together for a short period of intense work to solve a problem, complete a challenge or build something new.

We brought together everyone from across our cross-functional Product Development team, including everyone from product managers to designers to systems reliability engineers (SREs).

This carries on a proud GoCardless tradition, starting with the pool ball tracker we blogged about in 2012 and have continued since - one of our interns last year, Henri, highlighted 2016’s hackathon as one of the highlights of his internship.

We think our internal hackathons are super valuable because they give us a chance to try out new ideas, learn new skills and technologies and work with people we wouldn’t usually get to work with.

In this post, we’ll look at three of the projects that came out of the day:

Trying out new ideas: the churn calculator

Churn calculator

Juliet, one of our Product Managers, worked with Ben and Joe from the Design team to build a churn calculator.

At GoCardless, we know that one of our greatest selling points is our fantastically low failure rate for payments. Where credit and debit card payments experience failure rates of 10-30% a month due to expired or cancelled cards, bank accounts don’t expire!

The team wanted find a way to help users understand the tangible difference cutting churn can make to their bottom line, so they put together a brand new churn calculator.

On the calculator, a potential user of GoCardless can input their total numbers of customers, the average value of each payment they collect and the number of payments they expect to collect per month for customer.

They’ll get back a beautiful graphical view, showing how much they can expect to lose to failed payments over the next 12 months for cards, standard Direct Debit and GoCardless.

Having experimented and built something awesome in less than a day, the team will move forward with their project, aiming to get it released onto our website soon.

Juliet said "It was amazing to have the chance to experiment and build something completely new in less than a day. We can't wait to move forward with what we've started and bring it to the GoCardless website soon".

Learning new skills: visualising GoCardless’s payment volumes

João, one of our interns worked with Pete, one of our Technical Leads, to resurrect a classic GoCardless hackathon project from a bygone era: the 'make it rain' dashboard. This tool shows each payment being collected through our infrastructure over the course of a day as a coin falling from the sky, each one labelled with its payment amount.

They kicked off the project with another key goal: to work on something fun and learn something new.

They wrote the backend in Go, which neither of them had used before, to handle real-time data on payments as they were processed. They then refactored the old frontend code of 2015 to make the most of new JavaScript features introduced in ES6.

"By the end of the hackathon, we were pretty happy with the result and what we learnt in such a short period of time. It was a really fun day!" said João.

Working with different people: bringing the noughties MSN Messenger experience to Slack

Chris, one of our System Reliability Engineers, worked with Marco, one of our interns, to build a new tool called Slackify, aiming to bring one of the best features of MSN Messenger from the 2000s to Slack: showing what music you’re listening to in your status.

Experimenting with the Elixir programming language, they got to work together for the first time, and finished the day with a working prototype (albeit having spent much of the day fighting with Spotify and Slack’s OAuth APIs!).

Marco said "The hackathon was a blast! It gave me the opportunity to work with Chris, who I don't usually work with, and to get to know him better -- and also to learn Elixir!".

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in Business

How to optimise online new member acquisition

Memberships Direct Debit

In the first of a short series of GoCardless sponsored blog articles (by MemberWise Network Founder, Richard Gott) we investigate why your website is key to improving new member acquisition and retention.

In an increasingly virtual world many prospective new members will find out about your organisation either by searching for and/or visiting your organisation’s website direct. It will almost certainly be their gateway into membership. Let’s consider what might be on their minds when they visit your website:

  • This membership organisation may be of interest to me
  • I want to find out more now
  • I expect to see a clear online and offline member value proposition (MVP)
  • If I see value I want to join online now and I want immediate access to content
  • If I don’t see value I will either seek an alternative or I won't bother

For many organisations, this critical online membership journey needs optimising and, for many, has not been sufficiently considered/mapped.

Call to action 1 - Has the online joining journey been truly optimised?

In the first instance it might be helpful to consider your website as a shop. The shop needs to have a window and prospective shoppers (prospective members) need to be tempted inside via rich content, effective hooks, incentives and clear, intuitive navigation.

The shop door (online joining/payment processing) needs to be open and once inside (following successful online joining) the shelves need to be well-stocked (i.e. content should be interesting and immediately accessible).

From member outputs (benefits) to positive outcomes

Many organisations use practical case studies to enable prospective members to establish the value of membership. These case studies ordinarily mirror key member personas and are much more powerful than listing member benefits alone (member outputs). The key is to clearly communicate one or more positive member outcomes. This membership marketing approach is much stronger.

Case study: The Caravan and Motorhome Club

In 2017 the Caravan Club rebranded to The Caravan and Motorhome Club and underwent a radical change, shifting from member outputs (benefits) to outcomes. As an organisation it went from ‘we are a club for people who own caravans’ to ‘we are a club that enables our members to go on adventures’. This powerful approach will impact positively on new member acquisition.

Consider the online joining process and opt-out payment options

The online joining process should be simple and straightforward. It requires clear instructions and a growing number of membership organisations are using illustrations/videos/images to prospective members to join.

Two thirds of membership organisations have their websites connected directly to their CRM (membership database) and this can help massively with the online joining process/administration. It can also be the reason why online joining journeys for some organisations can be clunky and unintuitive. In real terms this will impact on the number of abandonments and you need to actively work to reduce these.

A number of membership organisations are now providing live web-chat functionality that can be accessed by the joiner at any stage of the online joining process. Some organisations are now actively tracking online joiner behaviour. For example, if the user starts to move their mouse to the top-left of the screen relatively quickly this may indicate a potential exit (I.e. pre-empting the browser screen being closed) and so ‘Can we help?’ is displayed. Similar content may also be displayed if there is a level of inactivity on an online joining page/form.

Critical to the online joining process is online payment functionality and it is now industry-standard for the joiner to have the option to pay either via debit/credit card, Direct Debit or offline via invoice.

Call to action 2 - Consider online subscription and opt-out payment options

Opt-out membership subscription payment options will massively help existing member acquisition, so this option should be provided as ‘the way to pay’. Many organisations also provide the opportunity for members to pay in recurring monthly/quarterly payments.

I hope you found this article interesting - and I look forward to sharing my second blog article on futureproofing your membership organisation. Watch this space…

GoCardless is bringing Direct Debit into the digital age, offering our professional membership organisations a streamlined and fully-automated payments service. With GoCardless you can set up new members online within minutes - leaving them to fully enjoy the benefits of your organisation hassle-free.

Optimise your new member acquisition
Find out how Direct Debit can help