Bacs and digital payments: the full story

Bacs is a not-for-profit member organisation which has been an essential part of automated payments and electronic transfers in the UK, US and Europe for decades. An industry body owned by 16 prominent banks and building societies, it uses Direct Debit and Bacs Direct Credit to carry out transactions, and is the hidden spine of the UK’s automated payments system “Bacs software” is a phrase used to refer to a software solution which automates Bacs payments.Â

Although many people haven’t heard of the group, they will almost certainly have used its services. During 2013, 5.67 billion separatedifferent payments were made by UK employers, employees, traders or customers. Three quarters of the adult UK population currently have at least one Direct Debit set up (for subscription services, to pay utilities, phone or internet bills or to donate to charity) while Direct Credit payments are used by organisations supplying benefits, wages or salaries.

However, you shouldn’t just trust any organisation claiming to offer Bacs software for automated payments. The body very tightly controls which software suppliers are allowed to use their two software offerings, Bacstel-IP and Secure-IP for Faster Payments. Solution suppliers must show that they can offer the highest level of security for their Bacs payments, and are tested by the body through a series of processes before they can legally advertise themselves as using ‘approved software’. Look for the Software Service Logo, or simply look up the company you’re considering on the body’s own online list of approved organisations.Â

A good approved payment system should offer direct integration with your office and accounts system to automate your files, invoices and bills into the template required to carry out a Bacs payment: Faster Payments, Direct Credits or Direct Debits. All stages in the software should be password-controlled, and the software should handle all requirements for you in order to make and receive payments within three days.Â

Bacs software is used by many different organisations across many different sectors. It can be used by employers to make sure that weekly wages, monthly salaries, or employees’ mortgages and pension contributions are always on time, secure and accurate. It can also be used to collect Direct Debit and other subscription payments, without the accountant having to do anything manually. It’s essential to make sure that you’re using a reliable automated payments provider – but when a solution is Bacs approved, you know that it’s safe and reliable thanks to their exhaustive testing for licensees.

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