This guide will walk you through the rules around setting up and managing an Autogiro mandate (known in Swedish as Autogiro medgivande).
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What is an Autogiro Mandate?
An Autogiro mandate is an authorisation given by your customer for your business to collect payments from their bank account. The details of each authorisation are standardised:
- All future payments are authorised so you can collect any amount at any time from your customer.
- Your customer needs to be notified no later than eight working days before the payment is collected, unless the customer has explicitly authorised the payment being collected.
- All payments are covered by the Swedish Payment Services Act (2010:751). This gives protection to customers in case a payment is taken in error.
- Mandates can either be written in English or Swedish (standardised wording exists in both languages).
In many cases, there will be a specific schedule of payments, such as a fixed recurring subscription, when the Autogiro mandate is authorised. The Autogiro rules and the Swedish Payment Services Act (2010:751) protect the customer from any other payments taken fraudulently or in error.
Setting up an Autogiro mandate
To register a mandate, your customer needs to complete an Autogiro mandate form. Generally, this is done in one of two ways:
- Paper mandate. A physical Autogiro mandate form can be completed by the customer and returned to you.
- Online mandate. Your customers can provide authorisation online through bank-approved payment pages.
For paper mandates, there are two standard forms that can be ordered from Bankgirot. The form must either be signed with an account number (form BG600P) or bankgiro number (form BG600F).
There's also the flexibility for your company to design their own Autogiro mandate. If you choose to do this, there are mandatory details you'll need to include on the form. The mandate form needs to be approved by your sponsor bank before being presented to customers.
Once a paper mandate form has been completed and returned to you by a customer, its details will need to be submitted to the banks (see the next section). The paper mandate form must be retained as proof your customer has authorised the mandate.
There are three types of online mandate in Sweden:
- Mandate via the Internet bank
- Mandate via web page
- Mandate via electronic mandate form
Mandate via the Internet bank
With 'mandate via the internet bank' (Medgivande via Internetbank in Swedish), customers will need to log in to their online banking service to enter details about the mandate they want to set up. You'll need to give your customers the details of what to enter on the mandate. You'll also need to be set up to receive notification of when the mandate is created. When receiving a mandate via the Internet bank, you'll need to approve it or reject it.
The main advantage of this method is your bank takes care of storing the mandate. The main disadvantage is lower conversion compared to enabling your customers to sign up on-site (mandate via the internet bank isn't a seamless process). If the customer makes a mistake when setting up the mandate (for instance, by fixing the wrong payment amount), you'll need the customer to correct the details with their bank.
Mandate via web page
Mandates can also be submitted through an electronic form hosted by your bank (Medgivande via Hemsida in Swedish). You'll need access to Autogiro Online and you'll need to be set up to receive notifications when a new mandate is created.
The main advantage of using this method is you're able to build it into your online sign-up flow. This will increase the conversion. A limitation of this method is the mandate will always be standardised - there's less scope for your business to customise it.
Mandate via electronic mandate form
A 'mandate via electronic mandate form' (Medgivande via elektroniskt medgivandeformulär in Swedish) can be created by you or an authorised supplier. The form of the mandate needs to be approved by a sponsor bank. This is to verify they comply with the Autogiro rules.
This method gives you ultimate control. You're able to host the mandate on your own website which improves conversion and allows for greater customisation. You'll need to make sure your finance system supports this method.
Once payment information and approval have been collected from your customer, it must be submitted electronically to the banks (see next section). There is no physical copy of the mandate to retain, which can make it more difficult to prove authorisation if later disputed.
It's worth noting that the Autogiro scheme rules don't allow mandate details to be taken over the phone. This different to SEPA and UK Direct Debit.
Submitting an Autogiro mandate to the banks
Once your customer has completed an Autogiro mandate, it needs to be submitted to the banks. This will inform your customer's bank about the mandate and will allow you to collect payments against it in the future.
Submissions to the banking system are made through Bankgirot, the clearing service for Autogiro. You'll need to create a file containing details of each mandate which must then be transferred to Bankgirot.
Once submitted to Bankgirot, it can take up to 6 banking days before the mandate is active. Once active, you'll be able to start taking payments against the mandate.
If anything goes wrong during the mandate setup process, you'll be alerted by a message from Bankgirot.
Managing your Autogiro mandates
Once an Autogiro mandate is set up, you can cancel it by submitting a cancellation message to the banks. Your customer can also cancel the mandate directly through their bank.
If you wish to cancel the mandate without it first being requested by the customer, you'll need to inform the customer about its cancellation at least 30 days in advance. There are exceptions to this rule (e.g. if the payer repeatedly fails to have sufficient funds or if the bank account has already been closed).
You'll receive a message from Bankgirot whenever there are changes to an Autogiro mandate (for example, if a payer cancels their mandate).
Autogiro mandates through GoCardless
GoCardless provides an optimised flow for your customers to create new Autogiro mandates:
- The customer setup flow is optimised, with simple online payment pages.
- The submission of mandates to Bankgirot is handled on your behalf.
- Mandate management is automated in response to messages from Bankgirot.
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