in Business

Elevate your member experience to win in a fast-changing fitness industry

The UK’s largest health and fitness trade show, Elevate, returned to the Excel Arena last week and GoCardless was there to take part in the action.

We were joined by hundreds of fitness businesses, from gyms and equipment suppliers to software platforms, including our fantastic partners ClubRight, Glofox, Virtuagym, OpenPlay, Sport Solutions and more.

Business leaders took to the stage in Elevate’s first conference, to share their thoughts on emerging trends and the future of fitness. Throughout the two-day event, one thing became clear: the fitness sector is changing and those who focus on member experience will emerge as the winners.

In an industry that is shunning long-term contracts in favour of more flexible membership options, fitness business operators must provide a better member experience to attract members and keep them for longer.

That means top facilities and passionate employees committed to helping members see results. But increasingly, it also means keeping up with fitness trends, integrating technology into your offer and providing simple, hassle-free payments. We’re excited by this as we think our Direct Debit solution can help gyms of all sizes to do just this!

With this in mind, here are our 3 key takeaways from Elevate 2018.

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Get the most out of your Direct Debit provider
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Our role as a data controller and what it means for you

In February we wrote about our commitment to the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Under GDPR, businesses must operate as either a data processor or a data controller. In this blog, we explain GoCardless’ status as a data controller - and what that means for our customers.

As part of our preparation for GDPR, we have looked carefully at how we process data relating to customers who pay companies through GoCardless (‘end customers’).

From that analysis and taking into account UK and EU-wide regulator guidance, industry practice and legal advice, we've determined that we act as a data controller in respect of end customers (like many others in the payments space, including Square, PayPal and Visa members).

Ultimately, being a data controller means we have an even greater responsibility to protect your customers’ data - and we are directly liable to data protection authorities in relation to all obligations under the GDPR.

Data controller vs data processor

Under GDPR, businesses must comply as either data processor or data controller, in relation to specific data.

  • Data processors process personal data on behalf of the controller, but they don’t decide the purpose (the ‘why’) or the means (the ‘how’).

  • Data controllers determine the purpose of the processing and the means to achieve that purpose. Essentially they decide why and how the processing should take place.

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GoCardless and GDPR
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in Business

Goodbye, card surcharges. Hello, Direct Debit. Why the travel industry must offer alternatives to card payments

At the start of the year, millions of Britons escaped the grip of winter by flying to warmer climes. At the same time, a different kind of chill was descending on the holiday industry.

New pan-European legislation came into force at the start of the year banning surcharges on credit and debit cards, a move that hit many businesses’ profits hard. But holiday firms, with their big-ticket products and already slender margins, were affected more than most.

Plastic is still the most popular way to cover vacation costs for many people. Consumers spent £19.3 billion on credit cards with travel agents between January and October last year, according to the latest data from UK Finance.

It’s obvious why customers like cards – they’re accepted everywhere, easy to use and provide extra protection if things go wrong. The travel industry liked card payments until January, too – prior to the ban, travel firms typically charged customers who paid by credit card 2 per cent, roughly what they themselves were being charged by the banks to process those payments.

It may not sound like much, but cutting that 2 per cent surcharge equates to an equivalent loss of £385 million to the UK travel industry over that January to October period.

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Direct Debit - a beginner's a guide
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in Business

What the gig economy means for the self-employed

The world of work is changing. An ever increasing number of people are becoming self employed and are responsible for generating their own work - and getting paid for it.

These changes have been facilitated by technology, with smart devices and ubiquitous wifi making it easy for individuals to transact in the digital economy.

On top of this, 'gig economy' platforms such as Deliveroo, Uber and AirBnB are providing freelancers with the opportunity to top up their income with short term contracts and one-off jobs.

Gig economy assignments and longer form freelancing opportunities have clear benefits such as flexible hours and the opportunity to strike a better work/life balance. But they also have their own set of unique challenges, including getting paid on time and the lack of workers rights.

In this blog, we take a look at some of these pros and cons in more detail.

Flexibility

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Guide to getting paid in time
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in Business

Why a healthy cash flow is the secret to a successful agency

Business services is fast-paced, dynamic and competitive. But being busy isn’t enough. Whatever field your agency operates in, evidence of your success lies in your company’s bank balance, as much as in the volume of work you’re tackling. Having lots of projects on the go and more in the pipeline is well and good. But if you’re not getting paid on time your business isn’t truly healthy - or ready to grow and exploit new opportunities.

The nature of the work many agencies undertake can exacerbate issues with cash flow. Projects often take some time to complete and can prove elastic, with clients requesting unexpected last minute changes. Plus, larger client firms might insist on long payment terms, leaving an agency waiting for money for months after work has been delivered.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are several paths to improving your business’s liquidity. What exactly should an ambitious agency owner be doing to ensure they have a healthy cash flow? And how can they use that strengthened position to scale their company up?

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A practical blueprint for fast payment
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in Business

How open banking can help the energy sector

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been speaking with energy supply businesses who are curious about open banking and its implications for the sector. At GoCardless, we're using open banking as a platform to improve payments for our customers. In this blog, we look at how open banking could impact energy suppliers and consumers.

What is open banking?

Open banking is a new set of software standards for banks set by the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE), an entity created by the UK’s Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) in 2016. The CMA’s goal is to drive competition and innovation in UK retail banking.

The new standards require UK banks to create APIs that allow two new types of services to be run by authorised, FCA regulated third parties (like GoCardless). These third parties will fall into two categories:

  • Account Information Services Providers (AISP): AISPs will be able to access consolidated information about payment accounts held by a user. Once authorised by the customer, AISPs will be able to access information such as current balance and transaction history.

  • Payment Initiation Services Providers (PISP): PISPs will be able to access a user's online payment account (with their consent) to initiate the transfer of funds on a user's behalf in near real-time. This represents an alternative way to pay online, avoiding the need for credit card or debit cards. These services are not yet widely used in the UK, but are commonly used in Europe.

But what does this mean for the energy market?

Identifying and helping vulnerable customers

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Competitive advantage in the energy sector
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in Business

The state of late payments

The culture of late payments has become so ingrained in the UK that spending time, money and resource chasing payments has, for many, become business as usual.

Take a look at the graphic below to see, in numbers, the state of late payments in the UK, how this compares to other European countries and if with new legislation, there is any sign of things improving.

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5 practical steps for fast payment
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in Business

Open banking and the rise of bank-to-bank payments

We’re reaching a tipping point for bank-to-bank payments and PSD2 might just push us over the edge.

Direct Debit, the most common means of collecting bank-to-bank payments, was devised in the 1964 by a Unilever executive, as an automated way to collect recurring, variable payments from ice cream vendors, without having to ask permission each time.

  • In 2016, Direct Debit made up 20% of all 122 billion cashless payments taking place in the EU (source: European Central Bank, Payment Statistics for 2016).
  • Direct Debit volumes in the UK reached 4.2 billion in 2017 (more than double what they were at the turn of the millennium), representing a 3.8% growth on 2016 (source: Bacs Payment Schemes Ltd, 2017).

There are several factors that have contributed to the growth of Direct Debit in the UK and Europe:

Better access
Third-party providers like GoCardless have opened up access to Direct Debit to thousands of SMEs in the UK who could not previously meet the revenue and bond criteria set out by banks. These providers act as a merchant account for businesses, developing and managing banking relationships on their behalf.

Ease of use
More commercial providers offering Direct Debit has led to significant improvements in user experience. While the former paper-based Direct Debit system was clunky and disconnected from the rest of a business’ workflow, GoCardless now gives merchants a simple, automated way to collect payments, through an app within their billing or CRM software, through an online dashboard or by building their own integration with our REST API.

Macro-economic trends
The growth of the ‘subscription economy’ in the last decade has led businesses to seek payment solutions more suited to a recurring revenue business model. Bank-to-bank mechanisms like Direct Debit allow these businesses to collect recurring payments against a subscription plan with a single mandate, while reducing involuntary churn and transaction costs (payment failure rates and transaction costs are lower for Direct Debit than for cards).

So, why doesn’t everyone use Direct Debit?

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GoCardless' Open Banking Hub
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in Business

Unpaid invoice? How to have THAT conversation with your client

Accountancy firms might spend their days advising clients on their finances, but even they are aren't immune from the problem of late payments. The average professional service firm is owed £54k in outstanding payments, according to new research by data specialists Dun & Bradstreet.

Having a challenging conversation with your client about money isn't most people's idea of fun, but most small firm leaders will need to do it at some point. With that min mind. we've compiled some tips to help you chase your client’s unpaid invoice (without chasing your client away).

Start the conversation (early)

When chasing an unpaid invoice, it’s important to remember that payment is already late. So, don’t procrastinate. By making contact with your client as soon as the invoice becomes overdue, your firm may be able to close the payment gap by presenting more flexible payment options, such as changing the payment date or offering instalment payments through Direct Debit. Whilst alternative payment routes don’t guarantee payment, they do move the dial in the right direction.

Structure the conversation (clearly)

Often, a client who is trying to delay payment will wait until payment is due before advising you that they didn’t receive your invoice.

1-3 days late

Your firm has delivered a service, your client hasn’t paid for it and all you can hear are crickets. So, it’s easy to think that non-payment is intentional, but it may not be. Genuine oversights happen all the time, so give your client the benefit of the doubt (especially first-time offenders).

Once the invoice payment deadline has passed, a junior staff member from your Accounts department should give your client a gentle nudge by sending a firm – but friendly – email with a copy of the invoice attached. The email should say that payment is overdue and your client must arrange payment as soon as possible or contact your firm if they’re in financial difficulty. More often than not, a subtle reminder is all that’s needed to spur an otherwise motionless client into action.

7 days late

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5 practical steps for fast payment
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in Announcements, Business

Protecting our customers’ data: GDPR and the GoCardless Privacy Programme

Protecting our customers’ data is a priority for GoCardless. With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect in May, we welcome the opportunity to deepen our commitment in the area of data privacy.

We are making changes to our policies, processes, products and systems to ensure that we comply with the Regulation and continue to put data protection first. We’re also committed to helping our customers meet their requirements under the Regulation.

GDPR: A new data privacy landscape

Advances in technology over the last decade have led to the proliferation of personal data. More organisations are sharing and collecting different types of personal data than ever before: from IP addresses through to health data, purchasing behaviour, viewing preferences and more.

  • From 25 May 2018, organisations who handle personal data will need to meet new legal requirements, as the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect across the EU (replacing the 1995 EU Data Protection Directive).
  • On the same day, the UK’s Data Protection Bill will pass into law, as the Data Protection Act 2018, effectively implementing the GDPR into UK law.

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GoCardless and GDPR
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