By Aaron Lumnah, Senior Manager Marketing Demand Generation
In the UK, paying by Direct Debit is a popular way for people to pay recurring household bills and monthly subscriptions. According to Bacs, the organisation that has overall responsibility for the operation of the Direct Debit clearing system, today nine-in-ten UK consumers now pay some or all of their regular bills using a Direct Debit. And it’s easy to see why.
Offered by all banks and building societies that accept instructions to pay Direct Debits, all payments are protected by the scheme’s Direct Debit Guarantee. Among other things, the guarantee ensures that as well as being notified before a payment is collected, consumers will get a full and immediate refund if a payment is taken from their account on the incorrect date, or if the wrong amount is collected.
Since the guarantee effectively protects all parties from payments made in error, the Direct Debit Scheme is popular with organisations who want to take payments from consumers and businesses.
How it Works – The Basics
Organisations that want to collect a Direct Debit payment must first ask an individual or organisation to complete a Direct Debit Instruction (DDI) that authorises them to debit their account and collect future payments.
In the past, this used to involve sending out paper forms for people to complete, sign and post back. But since 1996, organisations have been able to lodge their DDI instructions electronically via the Bacs’ Automated Direct Debit Instruction Service (AUDDIS).
This opened the way for payers to give their authority for a Direct Debit to be set up on their account via the telephone or online.
Offering businesses a low cost solution for taking payments that also reduces the chances of missed, late, or failed payments, paperless Direct Debit has simplified the sign up process and made it much more convenient and faster for all.
The Rise – and Rise – of Paperless Direct Debits
In response to the rapid changes in working practices and payer behaviour brought about by COVID-19, Bacs issued a new version (v5.3) of its Bacs Direct Debit Scheme rules which featured several tweaks and changes.
In essence, merchants and organisations that want to enable paperless Direct Debits must have:
- Approval from their sponsoring bank to run a paperless system
- Live AUDDIS status, so that authority can be transmitted electronically
- Undertake account validation at the point of capture to verify a payer’s bank sort code and account number
- Have a Know Your Customer (KYC) process in place to verify the customer, and validate their details (identity, account details, address)
- Have gained approval from their bank on all Paperless Direct Debit customer facing documentation, including scripts, confirmation letters, internet screens and any other materials
- Prepare and train staff appropriately
With more and more consumers looking to set up DDIs via the phone, having a streamlined yet secure process for taking their personal and payment account details is now a key consideration.
Securing Banking Information Over the Telephone
Semafone’s Bankprotect Voice+ is the ideal solution for organisations that need to be certain they can securely capture all the information they need to initiate a DDI.
When a contact centre agent gets to the point in the conversation when they need to capture the customer’s bank account information, they simply open the Bankprotect Voice+ page on their screen and place the call into Securemode. The customer then enters their account number into the telephone keypad.
No sensitive data is recorded or heard, as Semafone’s dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) capture and masking technology means agents can stay online to help customers through the process but will only hear flat tones on the telephone line. It’s the same for the call recording.
To check the validity of the bank account number, customers are asked to enter their bank account number twice, and Bankprotect Voice+ compares the numerical information – showing ‘green’ if correct, or ‘red’ if there is a mismatch.
If the customer makes an error, the agent can simply reset and start the capture process again.
Completing the Data Capture Process
Since the sort code is considered publicly available information, agents can request the customer provides this verbally so they can enter it in the appropriate field on the Bankprotect Voice+ data capture page.
Bankprotect Voice+ then performs a look-up check to confirm the sort code is valid. Once this is completed, brief information about the bank is displayed, so the agent can confirm the details with the customer.
Having completed verification of the customer’s bank payment details, the bank account and routing numbers are now available for the merchant’s systems to securely store and complete the business process as required.
A Smoother, More Secure Approach to Handling Telephone DDIs
Eliminating any need for burdensome security controls, Bankprotect Voice+ protects agents from being exposed to their customer’s sensitive banking data. Plus, customers gain a secure and easy-to-use way of sharing their sensitive banking data without fear that this is being exposed.
To support today’s omnichannel contact centres, Bankprotect Relay+ also makes it easy for organisations to securely set up direct debit transactions using any digital channel.