In order to collect a direct debit on a bank account, a creditor needs to get the approval of the debtor through the acquisition of a valid SEPA Direct Debit Mandate.
This mandate is the authorization given by a debtor (customer) to allow a creditor to collect future payments on their bank account.
Before the migration to SEPA scheme, the mandate management was under the responsibility of banks. One of the biggest change initiated by the SEPA regulation is the switch regarding the mandate management responsibility: it’s now up to the creditor (merchant) to deal with everything related to this mandate management: user mandate management, digitization, dynamic archiving, unique reference number, etc.
Types of mandate
There are basically 2 types of mandate:
the paper mandate
the electronic mandate, or e-mandat
The paper mandate is the traditional form of mandate, displaying mandatory information and a customer signature. As direct Debit transactions need to be documented and identified with mandate information, the creditor has to transfer the printed information of the mandate paper into an electronic format to process bank transactions.
In addition, as the mandate is evidence of debtor consent, it has to be safely stored and may be needed in case of dispute or bank inquiry. This may require a strong infrastructure, which could be costly to maintain.
The e-mandate is an electronic form of the mandate. This paperless e-mandate needs to be properly processed in order to be legally binding and enforceable in case of dispute.
The best practice for processing mandates relies on a 3-steps approach:
What makes a SEPA Direct Debit e-mandate valid?
• An advanced electronic signature* (or above) makes a mandate valid, given it complies with strong customer authentication requirement.
• Only a qualified electronic signature* has the same legal effect as a handwritten signature
• A certain set of mandatory attributes*(see the next paragraph or directly The SEPA Direct Debit Core Rule-book)
*Advanced and Qualified are the two levels of electronic signatures recognized by EU regulation 2014/910 Art3(10)(11)&(12).
What information are compulsory on a mandate ?
For a mandate to be valid, few information must be on it, as for instance:
- Unique Mandate Reference (UMR)*It is a 35-character reference that you can create. If you do not create it, SlimPay will generate one. You have the option also to set a prefix.
- Debtor's name
- Debtor's IBAN
- Creditor Details (you, the merchant)
- Creditor Identifier (SlimPay can help you get one, more information here).
- Type of payment (one off or recurrent)
- Date of Signature
- Electronic signature
What are the different statuses of a mandate?
Here are the potentials statuses associated to a mandate in your SlimPay Dashboard.
Displayed in Mandate Management tab, for Pending signature section
The pending signature has been:
The user is able to modify/ resend the pending signature request or to cancel it.
The pending signature has been:
The merchant now have a valid mandate enabling him to debit the customer.
A pending signature has been:
Displayed in Authorizations tab, for Mandates section
|Waiting for UMR*||A mandate is created without the UMR (Unique Mandate Reference) which is added later on|
|Active||A mandate is “active” when it is signed with success|
A mandate is “revoked” when:
It stops any future payment related to the revoked mandate
|Expired|| A mandate expires when no one single payment has been made over a period of 36 months (as of the last SDD).
It stops any future payment
* UMR: Unique Mandate Reference
Do I need to send the mandate signed to the debtor?
It is not compulsory, but a good practice. Legally, you just need to send the Unique Mandate Reference UMR, the date signed, and the creditor name. SlimPay can configure a email notification: the debtor will receive automatically a copy of the signed mandate.
What can I modify once my mandate is signed ?
Once the mandate is signed you can only modify the IBAN of the debtor. If you want to modify another information you will have to revoke the mandate and sign a new one.
NB: The new bank details will not appear on the mandate.
When do I need to revoke the mandate?
You can revoke the mandate but it is not needed, if a client is not your customer anymore, there will not be direct debit orders on that mandate. However, if the client buys again before 36 months, you can use the same mandate. Indeed, a mandate is valid 36 months from last debit, so if the debtor has regular debits, it will remain valid. If you do not want ever to use it for a direct debit, you can revoke it.