Being able to offer BACS payments to your clients will help to make your business more appealing at the same time as making the day-to-day operation of that business more seamless and streamlined. The actual process of becoming BACS approved is fairly lengthy and complex, however, so it’s worth thinking carefully about everything it entails before deciding if it’s an option you wish to take.
The first step in the process involves contacting your bank and asking them to send a BACS provider application form to you. The bank will explain the conditions attached to becoming a BACS approved bureau, and issue you with a bureau user number (BUN). Once the BUN has been issued, your bank will forward details to the commercial bureau support group within BACS.
BACS will then get in touch with you to discuss the next stages of the process and send out a comprehensive questionnaire for you to complete. As well as answering the questions, you will be expected to sign a BACS bureau accreditation agreement.
The questionnaire you need to fill in has been designed so that the inspectors from BACS can gain a full understanding of the structure and processes of your organisation, as well as the BACS related operations you intend to provide and the security controls that will be in place. The inspectors will analyse the information provided prior to staging an on-site visit.
This visit will be designed to enable the inspectors to compare the answers you gave in the questionnaire to the actual reality of the day-to-day operations of your business. Arranging this inspection can sometimes take several months.
The cost of becoming a BACS approved organisation
Before ticking every box and jumping through the hoops needed in order to become a BACS approved bureau, your organisation will need to be able to fund an upfront registration fee and setup charge of £4,500. In addition, you will need to be able to pay an annual membership fee. This fee is calculated on the basis of the number of BACS transactions you make per year and can reach a maximum of £1,500 per year. If all of this sounds like more work, stress and expense than your business is willing to put into becoming a BACS bureau, you could always opt for the simpler and less expensive option of taking BACS payments through a payment service provider.
If you opt to take the lengthier and more complex route of becoming a BACS approved bureau you will ultimately be in the position of being able to submit payment instructions on behalf of your clients. This service might be needed by clients for a number of reasons:
The organisation only has to process a small number of BACS payments per month
The organisation doesn’t have the infrastructure, personnel or time required to create a dedicated BACS payment department
Why offer BACS bureau services?
An accounting or payroll company that takes the step of being able to offer “bureau as a service” to its clients will be in a strong position to be able to boost its income and the loyalty of existing clients.
An accounting firm that has 150 clients, 30 of which are reasonably large companies, will be in a position to offer BACS services to these larger clients for a monthly fee of something like £50. In this case, the company in question would be looking at making £18,000 per year simply by providing bureau as a service.
We Can Help
If you’re interested in finding out more about becoming a BACS approved supplier, or any other aspect of your business finances, then get in touch with our financial experts at GoCardless. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.