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

Collecting recurring payments in .NET

GoCardless .NET guides

.NET has been our most frequently-requested client library, and today we're excited to announce that we've released our first version of a .NET library for the new GoCardless API!

This new library means it will be faster and easier than ever to build robust integrations with our API if you're using the .NET framework - you can focus on building your business instead of building the integration from scratch.

Continue reading...

Build better, smarter, faster with our API
Learn more

Incident response: email reminders incorrectly sent to customers

Yesterday afternoon on the 4th July 2017, between 2pm and 2:35pm BST (British Summer Time), we sent a number of email reminders to end customers (those wanting to pay one of our merchants), asking them to authorise historic direct debit mandates. The emails were sent to individuals who received a request from one of our merchants to set up a mandate, but who never completed the original request.

All our systems remain secure and uncompromised, no third parties were involved, and we have put in place changes to fix the root cause of this issue. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

What should I do?

What you should do depends on whether you’re an end customer who received an email from us on 4th July or a merchant collecting money through GoCardless.

For end customers

If you haven’t already taken action, please ignore the email you received. We have deactivated the link within it.

If you opened the link and completed the form, and you don’t want to set up payments to the merchant, please contact the merchant or your bank to cancel the Direct Debit mandate, or alternatively contact us if you have any queries.

For merchants

If your customers were impacted by the issue, we’ll be in touch with more detailed information.

We’ll be letting you know which customers were affected, and what options you have for handling any action taken by your customers in relation to the emails.

As always, our support team is happy to help.

In detail: how did this happen?

On the ‘Customers’ tab of our dashboard, we have a ‘Remind all’ button, which sends a reminder to all your customers who haven’t finished setting up a Direct Debit mandate with you.

As part of our phone support service, our staff can trigger these emails on behalf of a merchant.

The combination of a bug in our dashboard API and the way our dashboard works when staff are acting on behalf of merchants led to reminder emails being sent for all merchants that had pending customers, rather than just the merchant the support agent triggered reminders for.

As soon as we found out about the issue, we halted sending any further emails, triaged the bugs, and began working on our response.

We have fixed the bug, and performed multiple tests to ensure the fix is working as intended.

What’s next?

We want to reiterate our apology for the inconvenience caused by this issue.

As part of our incident response process, we’ll be conducting a detailed investigation into the issue and our response to it. We’ll be focused on finding any improvements we can - in both our systems and processes - that will reduce the likelihood and impact of this kind of issue happening again.

If you have any questions after reading this, please feel free to contact our support team.

Why is GoCardless launching the Open Banking Hub?

GoCardless Open Banking PSD2

Open banking is one of the most important emerging trends in the world of finance today.

It involves using technology to transform the financial services industry, levelling the playing field and giving consumers more control of their data.

This all stems from the introduction of PSD2...a term that may already sound familiar. PSD2 is short for the ‘Payment Services Directive 2’ and was designed as a pan-EU project, involving a range of countries within the bloc.

Together, PSD2 and open banking are gearing up to revolutionise the payments industry. The new directive is likely to affect everything from how we pay online, to the information we see when making a payment.

As part of this change, banks will be required to offer open APIs to allow third party developers to build apps around various elements of the financial services industry.

Fintech companies and other innovators will have the chance to leverage data in ways that benefit the customer.

But in reality, Open Banking is about more than APIs…

We believe technology has the power to unify and simplify finance.

That’s why GoCardless is launching an Open Banking Hub. Our goal with this platform is to disseminate insightful and informative content to help our audiences better understand the many benefits of open banking, for both their firms and their customers.

The GoCardless Open Banking Hub will also be useful for keeping track of how the open banking trend will impact us all. For busy senior executives in the financial services industry, projects such as implementing PSD2 requirements can become just another sprawling management concern.

Success of those projects hinges on how well you serve your customer. Everything published on the Open Banking Hub will be written with that philosophy firmly in mind.

The Hub will aim to provide some all-important context for understanding open banking. To do that, we’ve created a comprehensive timeline of the PSD2 project.

What’s more, the open banking revolution is full of acronyms and complex terms. To help you navigate this new world with ease, we’ve created one of the first open banking glossaries, which we’ll continue to update as new terms emerge.

Our Hub will feature a wide range of content, including interviews with key stakeholders — banks, investors, industries around the world, along with summaries, news and reviews of key events and announcements, plus deep dives into the various technology that’s driving the open banking revolution.

In addition, the Hub will offer a range of expert insights into how the latest developments in regulation and compliance are being shaped, and how organisations can use them to gain a competitive edge.

We’ll be talking to everyone from investors and entrepreneurs to industry organisations, in a bid to uncover how open banking will impact the financial services industry and beyond.

Find out more about open banking and PSD2
Check out the Open Banking Hub
in Announcements

We’re launching our new Sales Graduate Scheme - and we want YOU

At GoCardless, we’re proud to work with an incredibly diverse, driven and interesting team. We’re always looking for creative ways to hire and develop amazing people. So as we move into 2017, we’re delighted to announce the launch of our very first Sales Graduate Scheme.

In this post, we’ll answer the following key questions:

  • What does the grad scheme involve?
  • What’s the recruitment process like?
  • Why GoCardless? Why now?

Continue reading...

Interested in joining GoCardless?
We're hiring
in Announcements

Our response to Cloudflare's bug disclosure

At the end of last week, Cloudflare and Google Project Zero published details of a security issue that affected sites using Cloudflare's web proxy service.

When triggered, the bug led to request data intended for different websites to be mixed together. This meant that a page served by website A could include the contents of a request made to website B.

Because of how widely Cloudflare is used - some measurements put around 5% of the web behind Cloudflare - this is a true internet-scale problem, and warrants a quick response from everyone involved.

As users of Cloudflare's proxy service, we've taken the time necessary to properly assess the risk to our customers and we've done that in partnership with Cloudflare's support team. While the risk to GoCardless data is extremely low, we'd rather be clear with our customers about what's happened.

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Announcing the launch of GoCardless Plus

We’re excited to announce our new service plan - GoCardless Plus.

With Plus, when you collect payments from your customers, your name stays at the forefront of their minds.

When using GoCardless Standard, customers see ‘GoCardless Ltd’ on their bank statements, followed by a mandate reference which includes your company name. However, only some banks display the second part of the reference we provide.

GoCardless Plus gives you your own Service User Number (SUN) for Bacs or Creditor Identifier (CID) for SEPA. Your customers will always see your business name on their bank statements, every time a payment is collected from their account on your behalf.

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Interested in GoCardless Plus?
Sign up now

GoCardless launches a new integration with ChartMogul

We’re excited to announce ChartMogul as our latest integration.

This is great news for those of you who are already using GoCardless to take payments for your subscription business. You can now use the power of the ChartMogul analytics platform to measure results, understand data and grow your business.

Continue reading...

Gain deeper insights into your payments data
Find out more

We team up with QuickBooks to help small businesses get paid faster

Success for small businesses in the UK is more elusive than ever these days thanks to a weakened pound and intense competition in all markets.

Thousands of the UK’s small and medium enterprises have told us that managing cashflow is a constant struggle. In some cases it can take up to 13 days for an invoice to get paid.

Cashflow is the lifeblood for any organisation, so waiting a fortnight for payment can wreak havoc on a company’s finances. Time spent chasing late-paying customers could instead be used for growing the business.

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Use GoCardless with QuickBooks to get paid on time, every time
Find out more
in Announcements, People

Customer Support Interview Process

We take a lot of pride in our support team here at GoCardless. 😛

If we see a ticket that's close to breaching our service level agreement (SLA), we'll jump straight on it. Or if we notice a product update that's caused an unexpected issue, we'll quickly follow up to resolve it.

We're constantly working to improve processes, increase efficiency, and share more knowledge. Whenever our users get in touch, we have the right tools to provide a quick resolution that will minimise any disruption to their day. If we can put a smile on their face while doing so, well that’s just the icing on the cake.

We're also a team that knows how to have fun. Our Slack channel is widely revered across the company. If there were a prize for inexplicable overuse of giphys and non-stop banter, we’d win hands down. We all love getting stuck in at our company events…and the weekly Friday evening pub drinks.

Together we’ve sampled our fair share of bars and restaurants near the office, and we’ve competed in laser tag, bubble football, beer pong, and more – all in the name of creating a great team spirit.

Anyway, before we get too carried away, let’s get back to what you came here for – insights into our interview process.

Continue reading...

Interested in joining GoCardless?
We're hiring