Will we still have SEPA after Brexit?

At the time of writing, Brexit negotiations are still very much up in the air. One arm of the political throng is poised to steer the UK down a path that will see us maintain a close relationship with the EU, whilst the other is adamant that Britain will leave without such an agreement.

At DFC we’re impartial to politics, but whatever the outcome, it’s important to consider the cross-border impact this could have on payment processing and collection with the UK’s European neighbours, particularly in relation to the SEPA scheme.

The SEPA scenarios

SEPA (the Single Euro Payments Area), a European initiative that enables merchants to transfer payments across borders, is comprised of the EU member states. But with 7 non-EU member states already forming part of the scheme, is Brexit likely to be the nail in the coffin for the UK’s SEPA alliance?

The European Payments Council (EPC), who are directly responsible for upholding SEPA, paints three scenarios for Britain’s SEPA fellowship in the wake of Brexit:

  1. Britain leaves the EU but remains in the European Economic Area (EEA) – if Theresa May has her way then the UK will preserve a close trading relationship with the EU. This would keep the UK aligned with the EU legal framework, enabling us to uphold our participation in SEPA.
  2. Britain leaves the EU and EEA but activates a free trade agreement – in order to conserve a relationship with the EU, any kind of free trade agreement would have the ‘functionalequivalencee’ of the EU legal framework. Again, this should put the UK in a position to continue its participation in SEPA.
  3. Britain leaves the EU and EEA or does not agree on an alignment of its relevant legal framework with that of the EU – in the event of a ‘no-deal Brexit’, the EPC will have to assess the admissibility of the UK against the geographical scope of SEPA and its eligibility criteria. With territories outside the EU already in SEPA, geography shouldn’t be a barrier. Whether it passes all the checks falls more on the UK maintaining an EU-equivalent regulatory framework.

The outcome?

All things considered, it’s unlikely that the UK would be forced to cut ties with SEPA, even in the event of a no-deal Brexit. And if we do? It probably won’t be the end of the road for cross-border transactions between Britain and the EU.

Instead, the UK will have to determine new policies that ally with transactional processes across Europe. Who knows? This may even open up room for new opportunities. We’ll just have to wait and see!

 

DFC is a revenue management solutions provider, using the latest technology in collection management to handle your Direct Debits and grow your business.

For more information on our services, give us a call on 01908 422 000 or get in touch here.

Reducing membership churn for your gym

The fitness industry is booming. One in seven people across the UK now possesses gym membership.

Despite this, a report from Mintel found that gyms lose around 50% of their members each year. Membership churn, also known as attrition rate, is a growing problem for long-established gym chains, who are fiercely battling an upsurge of competition from an exploding budget and boutique gym market.

Gyms are flexing their strategy more than ever in a bid to keep hold of existing members. After all, it costs between 5-25 times more to acquire a new member than retain one.

So what is the solution? Here are a few top tips from industry experts DFC:

 

Invest the ‘smart’ way

Tech-up as many aspects of your facility as you can, from the sign up process to the actual gym itself. Cutting-edge equipment and services will enable you to comfortably compete because it makes for a more hassle-free, informative and enjoyable experience.

 

Create a sociable gym environment

The most loyal members are ones who experience a sense of community in their gym. The trick is to smile lots, employ enthusiastic team members and work to build a sociable culture through amenties such as communal areas.

 

Cement your value

You can’t beat budget or boutique gyms on price alone so you need to think twice about what it is that distinguishes you from the crowd. Work out exactly what it is that keeps people coming back and exploit it. The above points are just some examples. Other’s might include:

  • Being more than a gym. A diverse range of facilities will entice a wider audience.
  • Member rewards. This doesn’t have to be financial. It could include regular advice, health checks, loyalty schemes etc.
  • Community investment. This is particularly true of social enterprises and charities.

 

Track payments

Losing members is inevitable. Just make sure it isn’t happening for the wrong reasons. A bad payment experience can be cause for a great deal of stress from all concerned parties and it would be a shame to lose a happy customer over something so avoidable.

Direct Debit is your best bet because it gives everyone control. 82% of gym membership payments are made in this way. Direct Debits are quick to set up, incredibly easy to maintain thereafter and payments are generated automatically from a member’s bank account. Not only does this save the hassle, it reduces bounced payments.

 

DFC is a leading revenue management solutions provider, working with well-known fitness operators around the UK. Using the latest technology, and a belief in total transparency, DFC manages the Direct Debit process for thousands of happy clients. Just take a look at what some of them had to say: https://www.debitfinance.co.uk/quotes

Top tips for managing your energy bills

Bills are just another complicated component to add into the intricate web of adulthood. There’s no avoiding them. But managing them doesn’t have to be as stressful as your acquaintances may have you believe.

Here are some top tips for managing your energy bills:

 

Set yourself up on a direct debit

Yep – we’re jumping straight in with this one, and not just because we’re the Direct Debit experts. If you don’t want to have to think about manually transferring your bills every month, then Direct Debit is the way to go.

Your monthly Direct Debit bill will come out as an estimate of how much energy, on average, you use. Whilst this sounds like a scary concept, it’s actually designed to help you spread costs throughout the year more easily.

In the summer, you’ll build up credit because you use less, and then the surplus is used for the winter when you use much more. Don’t worry – any spare pennies will be refunded straight back into your account.

 

Get organised

The best way to do this is to dedicate a set time in the month for meter readings and bill checking. Focus on the following:

  • Splitting the bills – who’s paying what? Keep a monthly record of exactly how much is being spent. There are free apps that can help you with this, such as splitwise.
  • File all bill payments digitally or in a physical folder, so that you’ve got a permanent record you can refer back to if need be.
  • Check for mistakes. You want to look out for any dramatic rises or falls in your payment history. If this is the case and you can’t think of a reason why (i.e. a holiday, or an additional house member) then get in touch with your energy provider.

 

Heat in, bailiffs out

Organising your bills is far less stressful when you cut down the amount you spend. Here are some easy ways to cut down your energy usage.

  • Keep your curtains closed
  • Only put the boiler on when heating is needed
  • Dry your clothes outside whenever you can (we do appreciate that this is the UK we’re talking about)
  • Move your furniture away from radiators to allow the heat to circulate better
  • Put lids on saucepans – voila, cooking is quicker and you use less gas/electric
  • Switch to energy saving bulbs and you could save around £35 a year

If you’re doing a good job of organising your bills as well as cutting down usage, and you’re still finding a big hole in your pocket every month, then the easiest thing to do is switch to a cheaper provider!

 

DFC is a leading revenue management solutions provider using the latest technology and a belief in total transparency to collect Direct Debits for thousands of happy customers. You can leave us to manage your payments, while you concentrate on running – and growing – your business. Find out more here.

 

Why outsource your Direct Debit administration?

Direct Debit is the most popular collection method for memberships and subscriptions. If you run a gym, an energy company or a magazine subscription service, then it’s likely that Direct Debit is responsible for generating your primary revenue stream.

But like any mundane finance task, Direct Debit management isn’t as cut and dry as dipping into your customer’s pockets on a weekly or monthly basis. If you fall into any of the above categories, you will appreciate that maintenance is a continuous cycle.

 

What are the benefits of using Direct Debit?

Direct Debit comes with a plethora of advantages over other collection methods:

  • It’s a much cheaper alternative than cash, cheque or card.
  • The cost benefits open your organisation up to discounts and incentives for people who sign up on Direct Debit.
  • Your organisation is responsible for all customer transactions. Payments can be adjusted in line with the peaks and troughs of business.
  • The cost spreading of Direct Debit allows for much more accurate forecasting. You can pre-empt exactly how much you are likely to be bringing in in a set month.
  • Even with the constant maintenance, it still requires less administration than cards or standing order because payments are automatic.
  • Direct Debit mandates are paperless. You can collect as many as you want and it won’t take up any physical space.
  • Finally, customers prefer it. Giving them the benefits to spread the cost automatically makes their lives easier.

 

If the benefits of Direct Debit are so ample on their own, why outsource?

Your admin team might be brilliant folks. But here’s the real question: are they getting you more bang for your buck?

Direct Debit is about more than money management. It is a money generator in itself, and several of the above benefits, when enhanced, can have direct implications on attrition rates and the acquisition and retention of customers.

The main catch for this is that it needs to be managed fully to reap the benefits and this is a difficult task for a busy finance/administration team. Here are just some of the reasons you should consider outsourcing your Direct Debits to a bureau:

 

Credit control – not only are Direct Debit bureaus highly adept and experienced in keeping check of late payments, they do the chasing for you.

Advice – as experts in the field, Direct Debit bureaus are well-placed to help you develop a membership or subscription package that entices prospective customers.

Customer service – Direct Debit queries are a time-sucker, no doubt about it. Most Direct Debit bureaus will offer a customer helpline for advice on joining, cancelling, defaulted payments and more. Your team are saved the hassle of having to take calls and learn the ropes in this respect.

Reporting – Direct Debit bureaus will usually offer reporting services which keep you in the loop on your paying customers and cashflow.

Better solutions – products such as online joining are convenient for your team and your customers. Your customers can sign up beyond the realms of a normal 9-5 without input from an employee. It’s quick and simple.

Likewise, MyPayments is DFC’s, way of managing defaulted payments without any embarrassment to the customer. An easy way for customers to sort their late payments, DFC has seen over a 50% success rate in payments on members in stage one of the default process.

 

DFC is a leading revenue management solutions provider, offering transparent Direct Debit solutions to a wealth of clients across the UK.

Our mission is to make our clients business easier and help improve your relationships with your customers so that they stay longer. You can leave us to collect your Direct Debits, while you concentrate on running – and growing – your business.

 

 

Is open banking safe?

What is open banking?

It’s a term most of us have heard of, but few really know what it means. Though you’ve probably seen stacks of open banking services advertised without even realising it.

For the uninitiated, open banking is the sharing of transactional data with third-parties outside of an individual’s personal bank. Under new rules that came into force in January, consumers can securely share data to money management service providers to help them better organise their users finances.

The most common of these have appeared in the form of apps – think Mint, Emma and Money Dashboard. There are a plethora of ways that companies are using this new-found freedom, including stock investments, incoming vs outgoing management, pension control and personal spend allocation.

 

Is it safe?

As you might expect, open banking is a controversial topic. Some are hailing it as a revolution, whilst others are concerned about the dangers posed by sharing data.

But despite such unchartered territory for banking, it’s fair to say that open banking is safe. To explain this in more detail, we need to first tell you how open banking works.

The process of transmitting personal data from the bank to a third-party service provider takes place through an API. In a nutshell, an API is a function that enables company A to access the data in the software or operating system of company B. For example, whenever you use an online travel service to choose a flight, you’ll see an array of information from a range of airlines. All this information is pulled through using an API.

In the case of online banking, your transactional data will be fed back to you through the same process. There is absolutely no need to hand over your login details.

 

How do I know if a provider is approved?

All banks involved in this process have to comply with brand new Open Banking Regulations that ensure your account information is secure. Above all, open banking applications cannot access your information without your permission and you can opt-out at any time.

Service providers offering open banking services must be authorised on the Financial Conduct Authority Register or the Open Banking Directory. An easier way of finding this out is to look for a registration number on their website or app.

It’s worth bearing in mind that there will be a relatively long period of time in which to get every provider authorised, so if you’re still unsure, ask the provider in question.

 

DFC is a leading revenue management solutions provider, delivering bespoke Direct Debit solutions that drive growth and retention. To find out more about their products and services, head to https://www.debitfinance.co.uk/solutions.

Are health and wellness trends here to stay?

Whilst our slow-burning global economy doesn’t seem to be making any wild shifts in gears any time soon, the fitness industry hasn’t felt the brunt in the slightest. On the contrary, in fact.

1 in 7 people are gym members. The estimated total market value is almost £5 billion in the UK, up 2.9% from last year and total membership numbers have grown by 2% in the same period.

The global health and wellness boom is music to the ears of our leisure clients, many of whom have been busy expanding their facilities to accommodate growing membership numbers.

 

What’s been the catalyst for this fitness boom?

There are a number of factors that have aided the growth of the fitness world, amongst them:

  • A global information shift on the importance of healthy living
  • The rise of health-related illnesses
  • Greater press exposure on health and wellbeing
  • Wearable tech
  • Social media
  • Changing consumer behaviour

The two last points, in particular, have been chiefly responsible for the changing tide of fitness over the last few years.

From run-of-the-mill workouts, such as running, yoga and circuits, a plethora of revolutionary new fitness genres have emerged. Dance, trampoline-classes and digital fitness are just a tiny handful of the new activities available in the upgraded fitness market.

What was once considered a necessity (and a mild inconvenience) by many has become a fun hobby, generating a network of communities that centre around specific sports, classes or trends.

Fitness has become more than a routine part of a person’s day. It’s become a lifestyle.

The growing fitness and wellness market has arguably been most evident in the proliferating job market. The greatest areas of increase in the fitness industry, according to Statista, are alternative medicine, sports equipment, weight loss and gym memberships.

Each facet brings with it a host of roles from sport science to sales and more hands-on personal training jobs.

 

So are health and wellness trends here to stay?

Whether they’re here to stay – who knows? But the storm doesn’t appear to be quelling anytime soon. The estimated market size of wellness and fitness is expected to increase by £1.4 billion between 2018 and 202, according to Statista.

The foreseeable future looks promising, that’s for sure. There’s never been a better time to be involved in health and fitness. It’s great news for us at DFC and our many leisure clients.

 

DFC is a leading revenue management solutions provider in the health and fitness industry. DFC works with a large number of charities, trusts and independent bodies across the UK, providing seamless bespoke Direct Debit solutions that free their clients up to focus on their core business.

Find out more about DFC: https://www.debitfinance.co.uk/