Introducing Autopay Online Plus, your digital gateway to BACS
Launched in 2020, Autopay Online Plus (AOP) is our new and improved online service for making BACS payments. If you use BACS already or make lots of regular direct debit or direct credits, it could be a useful solution to explore.*
To learn more about how it could help your business, we caught up with Andy and Jos who head up our Autopay Online Plus team.
Firstly, what are BACS payments and why do businesses use them?
‘BACS is a UK payment scheme that works in a three-day payment cycle. It’s used by businesses for direct credit and debits, and it’s a useful way of managing your payables and receivables. Payments via BACS can be easily predicted, they’re cheap, secure and reliable, and that’s why we see so many businesses using them for payroll, supplier payments, and collecting regular Direct Debits.
‘It’s the stuff that’s the lifeblood of so many businesses, the things you have to get right. That’s why we developed Autopay Online Plus to modernise our BACS service, and provide a secure BACS payment experience for our customers.’
What are the advantages of Autopay Online Plus?
‘It’s an online cloud-based solution, which is cost-effective, easy to use, and based around a simple file upload process. You can access it from anywhere you have internet. There’s no need for cards and readers, you don’t have to download any software or be in the office – it’s all online and accessible anytime from your computer or mobile device.
‘One customer we spoke to told us that before using AOP, they’d not been able to take a holiday longer than a week as they needed to be in the office to make regular BACS payments – thankfully AOP has changed that!
‘AOP lets you create as many users as you need and set what they can do. Crucially, this means you can separate raising and approving payments, so you have complete control over your payments. And we’ve taken the hard work out of the file uploading process.’
“There’s no need to edit your accounting software or file types to match AOP specifications, we can map the files you use ourselves.” - Andy, Autopay Online Plus Product Owner
How does the file upload process work?
‘You make payments by uploading payment files, which you can then review and approve through workflows. Your users will get email notifications when the next person in the process needs to act.‘
'There’s no need to edit your accounting software or file types to match AOP specifications, we can map the files you use ourselves. Say you have payroll coming from one system and supplier payments coming from another, we can also tailor different files for those different systems, and you can set up different user controls for different workflows too. The only file type we currently don’t accept is XML.
‘We also have dedicated AOP experts to support you every step of the way, from a personalised onboarding experience, through to help with uploads once you’re up and running.
‘In terms of security, AOP connects to the BACS system using industry standard authentication and encryption. There’s two-factor authentication at log in, and payments can only be approved with the right security credentials. You can segregate roles for your users and set it so two users are needed to approve payments. In effect, you can customise the controls that work for your business.’
How would you know if it’s a good fit for your business?
‘Autopay Online Plus is for businesses looking for a secure, cost-effective way to process payables and receivables – in particular payroll, supplier payments, collections of direct debits. There’s a service fee for AOP, but if you use BACS already or process a lot of debits and credits, say over 250 a month, it’s worth considering, as it could be a quicker, more efficient way of making payments.
‘To be eligible you need to bank with us, and you’d need bank sponsorship to get a BACS service user number (SUN). This is so we can connect directly with the BACS system on your behalf. Our team and your relationship manager can help with this.
‘The first step would be to speak to your relationship manager or call our Solutions Line team on the number below. They’ll be able to discuss your payment requirements and establish if AOP would be a good fit. If it is, they’ll guide you through the application process. You can check out our factsheet for key features and fees, and we can also arrange a demo to show you how AOP works in practice.’
What general tips do you have for businesses about digital banking?
‘Things change quickly in the world of digital banking. There may be products and services you haven't yet heard about that could help. Our tip would be – explore your options and make sure your digital banking is tailored to your needs. That’s the beauty of AOP, you can create it to be what you need at different points in your business’s life. It can be extremely simple, but also develop to be a powerful piece of software.
‘Lastly, whatever service you’re using, always take advantage of the security features and support that are available.’
Thanks very much to Jos and Andy for introducing us to Autopay Online Plus.
You can review the product details and fees in our AOP factsheet.
And if you’d like to find out more please ask your relationship manager, or give our Solutions Line team a call on:
0345 9000 652 (UK)
18001 0345 9000 652 (Relay UK)
*For Autopay Online Plus, you’ll need to have Bank sponsorship and credit facility approval before your application can be processed.
Security may be required. Eligibility criteria and fees apply.
You must hold a business current account with NatWest, and you will need to agree to the Autopay Online Plus terms and conditions.