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Bacs SUN number explained

A Service User Number (or SUN) is a unique six-digit number which is given to an organisation or ‘Service User’ to take payments by Direct Debit.

It means you can’t setup Direct Debit payments whether online or via paper, or submit to Bacs, without one.

A SUN enables your payers to send you regular Direct Debit payments via Bacs (Bankers’ Automated Clearing Scheme) – whether that’s monthly, quarterly, annually or any other frequency you prefer.

SUNs are used by Bacs to find organisations collecting payments by Direct Debit and to make sure the correct organisation name is shown on a payer’s bank statement. They’re also used to identify the organisation that is liable for any chargebacks (also known as Direct Debit Indemnity claims) if a payer disputes the payment.

There are two ways of getting a SUN – you can either apply for your own one; or use a third-party’s SUN.

What are the advantages of having your own SUN?

If you can get your own SUN, you will enjoy greater benefits than using a third party provider, such as:

  • Your branding: your payers will see your organisation name on their statement, so they know their money has been collected (or debited) by the organisation they have signed up to.
  • Reducing churn: with an unknown payment processing bureau brand instead of your name on the bank statement – payers may well cancel their regular payments.
  • Flexibility: collect whatever amount you’d like, as any cap is set by Bacs and not a third party provider.
  • Greater control: your money goes straight into your account on the collection day, and not via a third party who may hold onto the funds for a few days before passing over to you.
  • Better security: because your funds are passed straight to your bank, there’s no middle man holding onto your money along with funds from other clients.
  • Reduction of costs: having your own SUN means that there’s no ongoing monthly fees to retain it – once you have it, it can’t be taken away.

What’s the disadvantages of using a Facilities Management (FM) service through a third-party provider?

Not all organisations can get their own SUN, so in this case you will need to use an FM solution. However, it’s far more beneficial if you can get your own SUN, so make sure you think about the following when considering other options:

  • Collection amounts: an FM service can cap the amount you take at a particular level, it’s not always unlimited.
  • Slower receipt of funds: using an FM means that your money won’t get passed into your account straight away and can take several days to reach you.
  • Lower retention rates: some FM processing providers only show their name on your payers’ bank statements – not yours, which is confusing to payers and can lead to cancellations and a drop in income.
  • Less secure: your funds may be held alongside other organisations’ which is less secure than funds going straight to your account.

If you want to know about collecting Direct Debits using your own Service User Number, get in touch today

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