20 Smart Reasons to Switch to SmartDebit


We’re experts in Direct Debit

We started in payment processing over 20 years ago in 1998. After starting in cheque processing (which we still do today), we moved on to credit cards and then entered the complex world of Direct Debit. We learnt by heart the Bacs bible (or ‘The Service User’s Guide and Rules to the Direct Debit Scheme’ to be accurate) and then embarked on a journey to make it as easy as possible for organisations to collect recurring payments.

Today we are a growing Fintech company. Technology is essential in Direct Debit processing if you want to do it in as automated and hassle-free a way as possible – and we love automation.

Our powerful Pulse portal is a one-stop-shop for Direct Debit management. Our API helps organisations to seamlessly integrate Direct Debit with their existing systems to provide a single point of truth.

We provide all of this thanks to an expert team. Experts in support, but also, most importantly, experts in Direct Debit.

In fact, every member of our company sits Bacs accredited training as part of their induction and ongoing training. This means that we all sing from the same hymn sheet and know what is needed, what is acceptable, and what is value-adding in the Direct Debit world. All of this helps us achieve our goal of making our customers’ lives easier.

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We’re accredited, regulated and trusted

So we’ve established our expertise. But what do the industry regulators and operators think of us?

Well, we’re authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Payment Services Regulations 2017. That means we’ve chosen to follow the comprehensive customer safeguarding requirements used in the banking world. In fact, we opt in to additional self-audits to make sure we maintain our compliance at all times.

bacs logo

We are also recognised by Bacs. This is fundamental if you’re going to be processing Direct Debits, but we are not only a Bacs affiliate, we are a Bacs approved bureau as well as a Bacs accredited training provider. We were also the first bureau to become a Bacs accredited Facilities Management provider in 2018.

Finally, we also have ISO 27001:2013 certification. This means that our processes and systems meet the stringent ISO requirements for information security management. We pride ourselves on our compliance across the board, working to ensure our customers, and their customers, have complete peace of mind.

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We have the top Trustpilot score for any bureau

So we’ve explored what the regulators and industry bodies think. But what about our customers?

98% of customers rated us Great or Excellent and that makes us the most trusted Direct Debit bureau*.

*TrustPilot scores as at 25 February 2021

    TrustScore 4.9
    200 reviews

    Great customer service

    Great customer service - always very helpful and efficient.

    23 Feb 2021

    Great company

    Great company with great customer service.

    19 Feb 2021


    Professional, helpful and prompt we look forward to working with SmartDebit.

    15 Feb 2021


    Excellent, professional and very helpful! Have used this company for almost 3 years now and never had an issue!

    11 Feb 2021

    10 years of great service every time…

    10 years of great service every time with these guys, highly recommend

    15 Jan 2021

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We’ve been shortlisted for, and won, lots of awards

It’s not just our customers and the regulators who like what we do. Since 2016, we have been shortlisted for, and won, a fair few awards.

We’ve been recognised for our technology and services:


Best Direct Debit Bureau – AI International Finance Awards



Best Online Payments Solution (Merchant) – Payments Awards



Payment Innovation – FSTech Awards


We’ve been recognised for our people:


CIO of the Year – Tech Leaders Awards



Customer Service Agent of the Year – UKCCF Awards


We’ve mostly been recognised for our customer service:


Small Contact Centre of the Year – UKCCF



Best Achievement in Customer Service - The Card and Payments Awards



Best Customer Experience - Institute of Customer Service Awards



Best Achievement in Customer Service – Payments Awards



Customer Focus – SME Awards – Institute of Customer Service Awards



Best Achievement in Customer Service – Card and Payments Awards



Best Achievement in Customer Service – Card and Payments Awards


All in all, we have a 100% track record of entering for an award and being shortlisted. A* for us.

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We have the lowest quoted payment churn rate

Payment churn rate, what’s that? Well, if you’re collecting recurring payments from customers, whether that be by credit card, Direct Debit, bank transfer, mobile payment or any other method, then you want to be receiving as close to the due amount as possible. If you have a churn rate of 5% then you are effectively losing 5% of your revenue and potentially 5% of your customers, since when a payment fails there is the task of reinstating a successful payment and often this relies on an action by the customer to affirm their details.

Some payment methods have a higher payment churn rate compared to others. For example, in the case of recurring payments credit card has a typical churn rate of 13%. Direct Debit traditionally has a better churn rate, with some bureaux quoting an average of 3% and the majority don’t even provide this level of transparency. At SmartDebit, our churn rate is industry-leading at 1.5% in 2020 and declining year-on-year as our processes get better and better.


SmartDebit customers benefit from industry-leading payment success rates, with levels of active and passive churn reduced.




*GoCardless average churn rates https://gocardless.com/guides/posts/subscription-success-metrics/

**SmartDebit average churn rates for 2020

In simple terms, SmartDebit customers collecting £100,000 per year by Direct Debit will be banking £98,500, whereas those using recurrent card payments will only be banking £87,000.

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Let’s talk about flex, baby

Flexibility as standard. We don’t believe in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, nor do we believe in automating support so you can’t speak to a person when you need to. Every organisation has a problem they need to fix and we help package the right solutions for the problem at hand.

While our typical service options are fixed between a bureau service, whereby we help organisations with their own service user number (SUN) to collect payments by Direct Debit in the most efficient way possible, and a facilities managed service whereby we provide a license (SUN) to organisations to collect Direct Debits, we offer flexibility in these options to suit your organisation’s needs.

One way we do this is we give you flexibility in how you sign up your customers to Direct Debit. Some bureaux force you to only use an online form, but then you may have customers who are not as online savvy or a paper form may make more sense if you’re dealing with customers face-to-face.

Our flexible options include online sign-up via two APIs, a hosted page on the SmartDebit website or your own custom page on your website. Alternatively we can offer an automated STP which gives most of the functionality, but without the integration.

With SmartDebit, whatever service we provide you with, we supply the resources for you to sign up your customers to Direct Debit in whichever way is best for you and your customer demographic: online, paper, telephone, face- to- face or a combination of all four. And don’t forget that we do more than just Direct Debit. We can offer Direct Credit and bulk cheque processing, plus card payments through a network of leading partners.

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We even offer flexibility to switch between our service options

As we’ve explained, we offer a bureau service for organisations with their own Service User Number (SUN) and a facilities managed service for those organisations unable to obtain their own SUN. But what happens if you use our managed service and then your organisation happily grows so you find that you could obtain your own SUN?

Some of our competitors can’t help as they do not support organisations with their own SUN. As a Bacs accredited training provider, education is a key part of our service offering and we believe in helping our customers to achieve payment efficiency. Having your own SUN gives you more freedom, so if there is a chance your bank will sponsor you, our expert teams can help you to complete bank application forms and smoothly move you to our bureau service, creating a seamless transition for your payers.

There’s no difference in service levels, you just gain some flexibility in terms of how often you can collect and the values, and since there are fewer costs on our side you will enjoy lower pricing. No change for your customers as your collections carry on as normal and your organisation’s name still appears on their bank statements. You also obtain your funds the same day, as you’re the collecting organisation.

And what happens if you can no longer keep your SUN and need to move to a facilities managed service? Again, nothing from a service point of view apart from your funds appearing in your account after a few days, as standard practice for bureaux offering such a service. There may also be some restrictions to collection dates, frequencies and values, as we incur some additional costs and risk – since any indemnity claims would first be payable by ourselves as your bureau – so your costs may be a little higher.

Staying with the same bureau means minimal disruption to your service and a greatly reduced risk of payment cancellation by your customers, so your cashflow is the best it can be. As a service leader we value our customers, and our customers value and trust us to grow with them.

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We ring-fence your facilities managed funds

If you have not obtained a Service User Number (SUN) and are using our facilities managed service, SmartDebit apply for a SUN on your behalf and use this to ensure that not only do your customers see your name on their bank statements, but your funds are secure in a ring-fenced client account linked to your individual SUN.

Not all bureaux do this. Check with your provider if you use a facilities managed service that your funds are not potentially exposed to the bureau’s financial risk. If another of their customers attracted a large number of high value indemnity claims and the bureau had to pay out, are you confident that the bureau would protect your funds and your reputation?

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We help you to interpret Bacs reports, and give you more reports if you want them

When collecting payments by Direct Debit, Bacs, the Direct Debit operator, provides a number of reports to help service users to understand any changes and issues with their payers and payment collections. All reports are made available to SmartDebit customers within our Pulse® portal and via our API, and we have handy guides to help interpret reports as needed. Our Customer Service team are also on hand to not only talk you through reports, but to help you to reduce payment failure rates and become more efficient in your ongoing administration.

Since Bacs operates by exception, the only reports which are generally available are for changes, cancellations or unsuccessful collections. Within the Pulse portal, SmartDebit customers can create and view their own custom reports and export these as needed, whether that’s for reference purposes or to upload into other software. Does your bureau do that? We also provide you with a successful collection report, giving you further peace of mind that your organisation is operating at the highest level of payment efficiency.

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We’re one of only a few bureaux accredited to offer Direct Debit training, and the only one to offer a diverse choice of training methods

The Direct Debit scheme comes with its own 171 page rules book for service users. One of the benefits of using a bureau like SmartDebit is that we’re the ones who have to read all 171 pages and then disseminate that information into what an organisation definitely needs to know in order to be compliant with the scheme requirements.

However, if you have a reasonable number of customers and find that you are receiving queries from them regarding Direct Debit payments, or you want to be sure that your scheme is the most efficient it can be, you may wish to consider Direct Debit training.

SmartDebit is one of only five organisations accredited by Bacs to deliver Direct Debit training. Being accredited essentially means Bacs check our training material to ensure it is accurate and reflects the latest scheme rules, so our training offering is more than just the practical advice and tips we’ve gained by being a bureau (though they’re pretty handy too).

Many organisations only offer this training face-to-face, by travelling to their own office, a regional location, or delivering it on-site at your own offices. We do all these, but we’re also the only provider to offer our full accredited course by webinar. We’ve also got a range of bitesize webinars on topics such as scheme rule updates and how to reduce indemnity claims. So if you want a more flexible and low cost option, we can help.

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Customer service is our middle name.

Smart ‘Customer Service’ Debit. Ok, not really. But we are the UK’s leading Direct Debit service provider, and for a long list of reasons.

The majority of bureaux don’t provide public-facing customer service metrics but, of those that do we outperform them significantly.


NPS, or, Net Promoter Score is a widely adopted customer experience metric. The NPS score of an organisation is ascertained by asking your customers how likely it is that you would recommend a business to a friend or colleague.

The respondents are grouped into three distinct categories:

Promoters (score 9-10)

Passives (score 7-8)

Detractors (score 0-6)

It is then calculated as so:

% Promoters – % Detractors = NPS



* AccessPay NPS https://twitter.com/Access_Pay/status/1153623332736196608

** SmartDebit NPS


Our NPS is 26 points ahead of AccessPay



CSAT, or Customer Satisfaction, is a metric used to rate customers satisfaction with goods or services received from a company. It is typically asked in the form of a feedback survey after an interaction with the service team and is expressed as a percentage.



*  GoCardless CSAT https://www.zendesk.co.uk/customer/gocardless/

** SmartDebit CSAT


Our CSAT is 7% ahead of GoCardless



We’ve been shortlisted for numerous customer service awards

Our Trustpilot rating reflects what customers think of our service

Our Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) score in 2020 was 99%

Our Net Promoter Score is currently +70 – and it keeps going up. Oh, and that’s good by the way! Have a read of this blog post on NPS typical industry benchmarks

We offer support by email, phone, Live Chat and social channels. And we have real people on the end of our channels, not bots. So no annoying automated chats when you need to sort out a problem quickly, just an empathetic person who can resolve your issue.

Our online helpdesk features nearly 100 knowledge-based articles which cover all aspects of Direct Debit and our service. Perfect for when you have the time to search for the answer to a question.

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We won’t let high indemnity claims volumes get you down

Indemnity claims are essentially requests by your payers for their money back under the Direct Debit Guarantee. Bacs has very clear rules on indemnity claims and generally they are nearly always honoured. So, if you start to experience a high number of indemnity claims, what can you do?

You can counterclaim. We can advise you on how to counterclaim and whether, in our experience, you are likely to be successful. Knowing the Bacs rules like the back of our hand means we can also help to identify the most successful counterclaim reason. Our Account Manager, James Cagney, explains how he helped one of our customers recently.

The other solution is reviewing your processes for collecting payments by Direct Debit. Being a bureau which focuses on compliance, we ensure your scheme is set up in adherence with Bacs scheme rules. Our supplied Direct Debit Instruction template is approved by Bacs, our phone script for signing up payers over the phone is Bacs approved, our payer communication templates are Bacs approved – you can be sure that your scheme is completely compliant. And we can help you to ensure that there are no obvious reasons why your customers could successfully lodge an indemnity claim.

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Join the growing number of organisations who trust us with their payments.

We currently process Direct Debit payments for over 2,000 organisations. The value of payments we collect totals over £5 billion per year and we process payments for over 5 million unique payers. We’ve grown substantially since we started, and we ensure we future proof our operational capability for growth to come.

Organisations we currently process for include

We like to think all of our customers are happy with us. Some even like to describe in more detail how we have helped them to take payments efficiently and with top service, such as:

British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy

who we assisted with an AUDDIS migration and API integration

On average BACP were having to deal with 20 ADDAC’s (Automated Direct Debit Amendment and Cancellation) reports of ‘no instruction’ per month which required remedial work by the team. It was also taking 30 days from the point of a DDI being downloaded or posted out for a new member to be set up and an instruction being successfully lodged with the bank for payment to be collected, thereby impacting cashflow.

We were confident that SmartDebit would offer us the support, expertise and account management to guide us through the AUDDIS migration. Their service reviews on Trustpilot were excellent, and it was obvious from our first meeting that they knew Direct Debit inside out.

Jo Owen
Business Analyst, BACP


who we helped to switch to us in a very short time to ensure minimal disruption to their donation income stream

FOUR PAWS were previously collecting Direct Debit donations with another Direct Debit bureau, but needed to switch to another provider quickly. Any delay to starting collections with a new bureau was going to have a potentially negative impact on the charity’s donation collections, reducing their donation cashflow and possibly leading to donors cancelling their Direct Debit Instructions if there were any errors. SmartDebit migrated FOUR PAWS quickly and smoothly.

Our experience with SmartDebit was, and continues to be, fantastic. I would not hesitate to recommend SmartDebit to other charities looking for an easy switch to a company who go above and beyond to deliver a high-quality service.

Martin Dale
Head of Fundraising, Four Paws

Warrior Factory

who we helped to save money and become more administratively efficient

The first two bureaux Warrior Factory used both went out of business. A third proved too expensive and finally a fellow martial arts school owner recommended that Phill try SmartDebit.

We were using a provider that was pre-integrated with the gym management system we bought. It sounded great in theory – it would mean automated payments based on member information and bookings. But in practice, it didn’t quite work.

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Our Professional Services team can help with more challenging processes

If there’s something strange . . . in your business processes . . .who you gonna call? No, not Ghostbusters. Our Professional Services team of course!

When we start working with our customers, we like to kick off with a workshop. In our experience this helps both parties to understand the full requirements and we can map out full processes and timelines at the very beginning to identify any potential bumps in the road. When these bumps are due to internal processes that’s where our Professional Services team come in and get to work to basically smooth them out and ensure everything will run as it should.

It may involve analysis and further development work, but we are happy to test and test and test, until it is right.

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Enterprise security as standard

Security is our number one priority. We enforce strong data protection and operate highly secure information management systems.

We are accredited to ISO 27001:2013 for information security management and therefore have an active and regularly reviewed Business Continuity Plan for services, office and business, as well as incident management procedures. We host with two commercially separate Data Centres, ensuring continuity of service. We regularly undertake internal audits and a full audit trail is performed against payers and associated charges, whether through our portal interface, as a result of system action or Bacs activity.

Want assurance our security systems are up to muster? Get in touch with your requirements!

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We have some trusted partners to help you with your other payment needs

While we’re the experts in Direct Debit, we recognise that our customers want to offer flexibility to their customers in how they can pay them and so there’s every chance you may also need a card payment solution or the ability to take Direct Debit payments across Europe.

That’s where we can help. Our partner network represents providers who match our own values of honesty, integrity and industry-leading service provision. We work to ensure that our partners have a good understanding of Direct Debit themselves and pass on our knowledge of our customers to help an easy referral.

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We’ll handhold you through an AUDDIS migration if you want to go paperless

If you’re relatively new to collecting payments by Direct Debit, then you’re most likely already using AUDDIS, the AUtomated Direct Debit Instruction Service. AUDDIS is the automated lodgement of Direct Debit Instructions, or mandates, with paying Payment Service Providers (PSPs). It’s synonymous with paperless Direct Debit Instructions (DDIs) since if you’re only signing up payers to Direct Debit online, then you will be sending those details directly to the bank electronically.

If you’re signing up payers with a paper DDI and sending the completed instructions to the paying PSP, then you are non-AUDDIS. Chances are you are experiencing a resource-heavy process with high postage costs, problems with multiple DDIs per customer, slow set-up and a high number of errors with keystroke errors and potentially failed collections. Eek!

AUDDIS eradicates these problems. Most customers see a large reduction in their costs as well as a massive improvement in lodgement times and accuracy.

We can help you to become an AUDDIS service user. Read how we helped one of our customers British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy do just that and how they dramatically improved their internal processes and payment collection efficiency.

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Come onboard in the way that suits you

At SmartDebit the customer is the heartbeat of our business, and we understand that each of our customers is unique. That’s why we don’t force customers down one route for getting to know Direct Debit and our systems.

If your requirements are more complex, we would recommend a workshop to understand your requirements in detail. In our experience, taking this time at the outset always pays off in the end for a successful transition or kick-off to our service. We can develop full process and implementation plans as needed, and be prepared for any additional development needs. This gets you processing more quickly and with fewer hiccups or delays.

A full walk through of our systems is provided as standard, and for as many staff members as you require. Depending on whether and how much of your customer communication you would like us to action on your behalf, we can provide personalised examples or templates of Bacs approved email and postal communications, as well as phone scripts for payer sign-ups. Access to our online helpdesk with nearly 100 articles covering all aspects of Direct Debit collections, our systems and other payment methods, is instantly available for access.

If you require more handholding as you’re totally new to Direct Debit, we can supply guides and training material to help you understand the scheme, its requirements and how to operate effectively. However being a Bacs accredited training provider means we can deliver you with a full ‘Direct Debit Made Easy’ course to cover the complete Bacs scheme rules and help you to be completely confident in Direct Debit collections. You can even have this training from the comfort of your own desk with our accredited webinars.

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A one-stop portal with flexibility, and an API for control and integration

Like most, but not all, Direct Debit bureaux, we have a cloud-based portal. Pulse®, our portal, offers a secure but flexible system to manage the whole Direct Debit collection process.

Key Pulse® features include:

  • Four different user role profiles to suit various organisational structures
  • Customisable dashboard with easy access to create payers, view payer details, upload files and view reports
  • Modulus checking when creating payers within the portal to ensure the payer’s sort code and account numbers are valid
  • Omni-channel customer support a click away, including Live Chat
  • Standard reports available including successful collection reports, plus the ability to create custom reports as needed
  • A view of projected future collections for regular payers
  • Application of Bacs reason codes directly into Pulse database
  • Emailed reminders to check reports or confirm collection details, plus real-time alerts for failed or cancelled payments. Alerts and notifications can be further customised to suit your needs.

Want to integrate seamlessly? Our API offers direct access to the core of our Direct Debit processing systems, offering the same functionality as Pulse, but without the system user settings and passwords. You can use it to manage all aspects of the Direct Debit process, or it can be used to deal with some aspects and you can choose to control others with Pulse. By offering a full test account to manage the implementation before, during and after the integration, our Development team are on-hand to help you each step of the way.

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We’re not just a faceless brand – we’re a team, and we have expert people to help you


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