SEPA Direct Debits

SEPA Direct Debits

December 24, 2023Karol Wojtyła

This is our latest addition to SchoolMate involving payment collection. The previous was about students being able to pay online by credit card in SchoolMate. Now, we have integrated SchoolMate with a payment collection processor to collect SEPA direct debits from students’ bank accounts.

What are SEPA Direct Debits?

Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) Direct Debits allow businesses to collect one-off, or recurring, payments in euros directly from their customers’ bank accounts. The customer signs an electronic mandate – which you send to them via email – that permits you to take payments for their lessons automatically from their bank account.

Many people use SEPA direct debits to pay phone bills, utility bills, mortgage payments etc. allowing the amounts due to be collected automatically from their bank accounts. This is a very popular method, particularly in Spain, for schools to collect monthly installments for language lessons from their students and is sure to spread through the rest of the eurozone.

Now, we have added the possibility for schools to collect direct debit payments in euros in SchoolMate by integrating with the number one SEPA payments processor in Europe called GoCardless.

What are the benefits of using SEPA Direct Debits?

  • Seamless Payment Processing

SEPA direct debits streamline payment collection. With this system, authorized payments are automatically deducted from students’ bank accounts on agreed-upon dates, eliminating the need for payment chasing. Payments received are credited to the student’s SchoolMate account and invoices can be created and sent instantly.

  • Reduced Administrative Burden

By automating the payment process, you can significantly reduce administrative tasks related to billing and reconciliation. This frees up staff time to focus on more value-added activities and enhancing the overall learning experience for students in your school.

  • Lower Transaction Costs

Compared to some other payment methods, SEPA direct debits often come with lower transaction fees. This cost-effectiveness can be advantageous, especially when dealing with a large number of recurring payments.

  • Flexibility and Control

You will have control over payment schedules and easily manage variations in fees. Whether it’s for different courses, additional services, or varying payment frequencies, SEPA direct debits offer flexibility in handling diverse payment structures.

  • Improved Cash Flow Management

Predictable income is essential for any business, including language schools. SEPA direct debits provide a level of predictability, allowing schools to anticipate when funds will be received. This ensures a more reliable and consistent cash flow for your school and helps in better financial planning.

  • Enhanced Customer Experience

SEPA direct debits offer convenience to students by automating payments. Once authorized, students don’t need to remember payment dates or manually initiate transactions, reducing the chances of missed payments.

What do I need to do to start collecting SEPA payments from students?

You will need to open an account with GoCardless. Once you have opened an account, you add your GoCardless credentials to your SchoolMate account and you are ready to go. There is a detailed tutorial on integrating and using GoCardless here.

What does it cost to use GoCardless?

Firstly, you need to open an account with GoCardless; there are no costs involved in opening and keeping open a GoCardless account.

What are the costs involved in collecting the direct debits?

GoCardless have various payment schemes depending on volume and type of payments, but the charges for a typical language school collecting local payments are 1% + €0.20 with a maximum of €2. These fees can be adjusted based on the quantity and value of the transactions.

So, collecting a €100 payment would cost €1.20

This is less than regular banks charge. Also, you only have to submit the payment schedule request once and future payments are collected automatically; regular banks often require you to create and upload an Excel sheet containing all the payments you want to collect each month; with GoCardless the process is automatic.

What are the downsides to using GoCardless?

Currently, from when a payment is collected by GoCardless it can take 5 working days to reach your bank account.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact SchoolMate on