Direct Debit
Bacs, Direct Debit
10, DEC 2015

If you would like to start collecting your customers fees using Direct Debit but haven’t yet set this service up and don’t have a ‘Service User Number’, here’s a few things to consider.

What is a Service User Number?

The Term Service User Number or SUN refers to the unique identifier that is used by organisations and businesses collecting payment by Direct Debit. This ID is allocated to the organization by the sponsoring bank as the bank need to approve the organization to collect Direct Debits. Once allocated, the SUN is then used in all communications with BACS and in all transactions undertaken. As an organisation, you can apply for your own SUN or you can use a Facilities Management (FM) Bureau who will allow you to use one of their SUNs. It is recommended however that you obtain and use your own SUN for a number of reasons:

  • Your organisation name appears on all paperwork – so your customers know who they are paying
  • Funds received go straight into your nominated bank account – whereas with a FM set-up the funds are received into the FM Bureaus bank account and then released to you a few days later
  • You retain the relationship with your customers – if you want to change how you submit your files to Bacs and use a different bureau / software you can do this very simply. If you have a FM set-up, you cannot easily change provider as you do not own the SUN.
  • Accessible reports and improved visibility – its your SUN
  • Less expensive than using another organisations SUN

How do you get a Service User Number?

  • The first step is to approach your relationship manager at your bank and ask if it principle they would be willing to sponsor you. They will consider factors such as the length of time the organisation has been operating, your financial turnover and stability.
  • If you are approved in principle you will need to complete application forms – it is important to obtain the correct forms as there are a number of different versions
  • Consider how you will use the service – Will you want to apply for an AUDDIS enabled SUN (AUDDIS stands for Automated Direct Debit Instruction Service – this will allow you to submit new instructions to Bacs electronically). Will you want to apply for Paperless sign ups, e.g. via the internet or telephone.
  • You will need to indicate if you will process in-house or use a Bureau

It can take some time to obtain your own SUN (Bacs advise 4-6 weeks) but the advantages of then being able to collect Direct Debits will make it worthwhile.

The Benefits of Direct Debit:

  • The organisation is in control of when money is received
  • Improved cash flow – you know when money will be received and can plan accordingly – you also know what hasn’t been received and can pursue this.
  • Variable collection dates/amounts – if the customers order changes you can amend the Direct Debits (after providing notification) – whereas with a standing order for example you are reliant upon the customer amending it
  • Easy reconciliation of payments
  • Saves on administrative resource as quicker to operate than other methods

How can Clear Direct Debit help?

Clear Direct Debit are a Bacs Accredited Direct Debit training provider – we know Direct Debits.  We are also a Bacs approved Bureau and can process transactions for organisations with their own SUN who wish to outsource the workload.  Benefits of using us include:

  • No upfront investment in software
  • Secure collections
  • Bacs compliant
  • Quick set up
  • Seamless integration
  • Direct Debit expertise

So, if you are interested to obtain your own Service User Number – or have just agreed this in principle with your bank – and would like more help or information, please Contact us and ask for Hilary.