Frequently asked Questions
How does it work?
Getting your cash flowing with uCollect is as easy as 1-2-3:
- Connect your uCollect account to your Xero Ledger
- Connect your uCollect account to your approved payment processor and set some initial settings (see Set up demo)
- Tell uCollect what clients to collect payments from (and provide their relevant details)
That’s it. uCollect will now initiate the payment through your payment gateway at the selected frequency and mark these invoices as paid in Xero. You don’t need to change anything if the payment amounts change – other than your Xero invoices. Everything is driven by your Xero Receivables ledger.
When do you initiate the payment?
You tell us what time of the day to check your Xero ledger, and how many days in advance you want us initiate (standard is two). Then, every day at the agreed time we connect to your Xero ledger, load up a list of your unpaid invoices and initiate payment from only those customers you have told us to collect payments from. (See Introductory Video)
We generate the payment list and upload it to your payment processor.
What countries does uCollect work in?
We work in NZ, AU, US, Canada, UK and the Eurozone, plus anywhere that Stripe is accepted. For a full list of approved payment gateways please click here.
What payment processors are approved?
We are adding payment gateways every month. For a full list of approved payment gateways please click here.
What other charges are there?
We charge you a flat-rate monthly or annual fee. There are no other uCollect charges. Your payment gateway will charge you a fee for their services, and you will have to pay for your Xero ledger (if you are not yet setup in Xero we can help you get that sorted through one of our partners).
Can I connect to more than one Xero ledger?
Yes, you can have more than one Organisation. Each organisation needs to be attached to a unique Xero account and have it’s own billing settings.
How does uCollect record the payments in Xero?
Once we have loaded the payment batch into your payment gateway we post the payments to Xero. Unfortunately, Xero does not allow us to post these as a payment batch. We recommend that you create a separate bank account or ledger account (with payments enabled) for us to post these payments to (you tell us which bank account to record the payments in when you set up or edit the payment gateway). When the funds settle you then code this as a bank transfer (if the holding account is a bank account) or code to the holding account (if a non-bank account with enable payments). You will need to code any deducted fees as well (full tutorials are given).
Do your fees include processing charges?
No, our fees are separate from your payment gateway’s charges. You will pay them directly for their service fees. uCollect is not a payment gateway and does not touch the funds – we simply act as the middle-man to request your payment processor to process the collection request.
How you determine the subscription rate to use?
It’s very simple. If you have choosen the annual or bi-annual (2 year) subscription option then we use the appropriate rate and renew your subscription automatically on the anniversary date. If you have chosen the monthly subscription option we look at your activity in the prior month and charge you accordingly. Let’s take an example. You sign up on Jan 15 and do 25 transactions in the next month. Your first month is free, so we haven’t charged you yet. On Feb 15 we charge you $15 for the coming month. In the next month you do 125 transactions. On March 15 we charge you $20 (because you exceeded 100 transactions the month before). In the next month you only do 98 transactions, so on April 15 we charge you the lower fee of $15. If your activity drops below the 100 item threshold there is no refund for the previous month (as it was based on real activity in the month before) but rest assured that you are not locked in to a higher rate unless you actually use the higher service level.
Does uCollect hold onto my money?
uCollect does not collect the money – your payment gateway does that. uCollect acts as the bridge between Xero and your payment gateway ensuring that your payment is scheduled correctly. Your payment gateway may have a holding period before they release the money to you and they may deduct fees from that for their services. uCollect is not involved in that process at all.
How secure is uCollect?
uCollect is very secure. We do not store bank account details of any of your contacts in our system, only their relevant ID numbers that connect them to the Payment Gateway. We store no personal details of your business or your contacts other than name and your email address). We even scramble your passwords or API keys on our database – so that even our database administrators can’t read it! All app pages are protected by SSL encryption as well. You can’t get much safer than that!
I need to collect payments on the same day as the invoice is issued. How do I do that?
You will have to make sure that uCollect is set to run several hours before your payment processor cut-off (we recommend at least 4 – to allow for issues at either end). For example, if your payment gateway requires all payments to be uploaded by 4pm, then you should ensure that uCollect is triggered by noon at the latest. We cannot guarantee same day collection.
When uCollect checks your Xero ledger it will automatically pick up any invoices dated today that are unpaid (plus any dated in the next few days – depending on your “days in advance” setting in your uCollect Organisation settings) and initiate collection. If an invoice is created in Xero after uCollect has checked it will be picked up the following day.
Please note that some gateways that you have given your customers several days notice of the amount being deducted. In this case your invoice must be created in Xero before the payment due date. Unfortunately, you cannot create a repeating payment that will generate before the transaction date in Xero (say you want the invoice dated 1st of the month, and funds collected 1st of the month – you can’t use a repeating invoice to generate this on the 28th of the month). We expect to have a solution available for this in a future release. For now you will either have to delay payment a few days, or set up the repeating invoice a few days earlier.
How does the Upload type work?
We provide the option for text files where a payment gateway does not support direct API transactions (yes, we know – so last century!). Because we can’t send the data directly to the payment gateway we have to remind you to do it (so we recommend that you set the initiation window to at least 1 day in advance). Each day we check your Xero ledger for invoices that are due for collection. If there are any that need a file upload we will send you an email with a link to the CSV file for you to download (we don’t email the CSV file as it is not encrypted and may contain sensitive data). You will then upload the file to the bank/gateway’s web site or use their application.
You don't support my bank/payment gateway!! What can I do?
First – don’t panic. It takes us time to create a gateway integration, so we actually do it on a request basis. You can be the first!
If you have a payment gateway that you would like us integrate with, just let us know. They need to have API access to their payment stream or allow CSV file uploads for us to be able to work with though, so there’s no point in recommending some stale old crusty bank that hasn’t embraced the internet yet!
Just complete the Contact Us form and we will get in touch with you letting you know if it is possible to integrate with your current payment gateway.
Can I cancel my subscription?
Of course! If uCollect is not providing value to you then you should cancel. To cancel simply go into your uCollect account, edit your organisation settings, and click the “Delete Organisation” button. Please note that this action is not reversible – so if you come back to your senses you will have to re-create your account. Please note that uCollect subscriptions already paid are non-refundable. If you want to test out the system you should choose the monthly subscription option. We give you the first month free in all cases, so you have plenty of time to decide if uCollect will work for you.
Do I need to put in my Credit Card to start a trial subscription?
No you don’t – you can create a uCollect account and set up all the details without a credit card. But uCollect will not process/collect any payments on your account until a valid credit card has been entered and verified. Remember that we don’t charge your card until your 30 day trial period is over, so there is no chance that you will be charged until you have had ample opportunity to test it out. We send you an email reminder after 25 days to give you a chance to cancel if you don’t want to go ahead.
I have customers in different countries. Can I bill in foreign currencies?
Not yet. You need to ensure that the currency code of your invoice matches that allowed by your payment gateway and is the same as the settlement Bank account that you use in Xero. If they don’t the world may blow up! Please contact us if you have a payment gateway that allows multi-currency billing and that converts the amounts to your currency – you need to take extra steps in uCollect and Xero to make this work.
Can I use more than one payment gateway?
Yes you can. However, each contact in Xero can only use one payment gateway. If you need the same contact to use multiple payment gateways you will have to split them into more than one contact in Xero first.
Can I break each invoice down into installments?
Yes. First, create the invoice in your accounting system for the full amount. Next log into uCollect and assign a payment sequence (dates and amounts) to the invoice. uCollect will now ignore the due date and follow the payment plan until the plan has finished or the invoice shows as fully paid.
Can I add uCollect to the Payment Services on my Xero invoice?
Yes, but keep in mind that the whole point of uCollect is that you are in charge of the collection process through pre-authorized charges, and are not leaving it up to the whim of the customer to decide when (and how much) they pay.
However, we do have a Pay Now option available – with the added BONUS of allowing your customers to actually opt in to the automated collection process from there. For more information please see our Payment Services help page.
What happens if the payment request is declined?
If we submit a payment request to your payment gateway and it is declined or rejected for any reason at the time we initiate the request (which could be several days or hours before the payment is actually processed by the payment gateway) we will send you an email advising you of the error so that you can correct it. The invoice will not be marked as paid. We will keep trying each day. It is very rare that a Direct Debit/ACH payment request will be rejected due to insufficient funds (as we are often scheduling payments in advance).
It is more likely that our payment request is accepted initially but then the payment is later declined or returned. The payment gateway should alert you about this directly (it does not go through us) and will remove the funds from your bank account (or just not pay you in the first instance). At this point the Xero Invoice is showing as paid. You have two options (strap in – it’s a bit complicated – feel free to use the live support option the first time you experience this):
- From the Xero invoice, click on the payment link. From the payment’s Options menu choose Remove and Redo. If you do nothing more uCollect will schedule the invoice for recollection in the next daily cycle. If you would like to give the client a few extra days you should change the due date.
- Code the reversal bank transaction to a suspense account and create a new invoice (code to the same suspense account) to reflect the recovery of the bounced payment. Set the due date that you want us to schedule collection for. uCollect will initiate collection in the normal process.
The customer has asked me to suspend charges to their bank account. How do I do that?
You can easily suspend a contact from collection at any time. uCollect will ignore all invoice due dates until you reactivate that contact.
How does my customer update their card details?
Right now we don’t have a proper customer portal where they can update their info. We have CC expiration reminders on the roadmap, but for now if someone wants to update their payment method you should:
- Ensure that Pay Now settings are switched on for the desired gateway(s).
- Copy the contact’s Pay Now link from uCollect’s Search Contact screen and send it to them.
- The customer should choose the “All invoices on their due date” option and select the payment method (NOT the “Payment details already on file”). This will override the old data.
I’ve just entered an old batch of unpaid invoices. What will uCollect do with these?
22. Try to collect them, of course. If these contacts are assigned to a gateway in uCollect we will automatically attempt collection. uCollect will initiate a payment for all invoices that are due up to the cut-off period and are unpaid at the time we initiate payment. If you do not want the invoices collected you can either suspend the whole contact, or you can mark selected invoices for suspension.
What happens if a payment fails?
uCollect is not a real-time collection system. In the vast majority of cases we are scheduling collection in advance through your payment gateway. There will always be situations where your customer does not have sufficient funds in their account or they (or their bank) reject the transaction after it is processed. uCollect will mark your Xero invoice as paid when we schedule the collection in anticipation of the completion of the transaction. If it fails your payment gateway should notify you directly (uCollect is not a party to this event) and you will need to delete the payment from Xero. More information on this is available in our Help pages.
Some credit card interfaces are real time. If the payment gateway notifies us that the payment is rejected for any reason we will not record the payment and advise you by email.
Will you remind me when a customer's credit card is about to expire?
Not yet – but we are working on a solution for that. In the mean time you should ask your payment gateway about expiring card notification. If a transaction is declined (when we request it) we will advise you so that you can correct it.
Will this work for real-time or eCommerce billing?
Maybe not. We are not a payment processor or merchant account. You need to have an account from one of our approved payment gateways to be able to use this service. If you wanted real time or eCommerce collection it would be more efficient to integrate your web site directly with the payment processer.
Will this work for subscription billing?
Absolutely – that’s what uCollect is intended for. Whether you are billing the same amount every month, or the amount changes based on activity, uCollect can initiate the payment request based on your Xero invoice due date.
What if the amount to collect changes each month?
No problem – that’s what uCollect is intended for. Whether you are billing the same amount every month, or the amount changes based on activity, uCollect can initiate the payment request based on your Xero invoice due date.
What happens if I change the Contact name in Xero?
No problem. We use a hidden contact ID to track your contact. If you change the contact name we will still track it. But, if you merge this contact into another we will no longer be tracking the invoices for collection. You need to log back into uCollect and attach your payment gateway ID to the new contact.
What do I do when my customer changes their bank account or credit card?
You probably need to set up a new authority to charge the account. You need to follow your payment gateway’s rules for this and get them setup with the payment gateway first. If this changes the ID/token assigned by the payment gateway then you need to update uCollect. If we are pulling the bank account from Xero then you should update it in Xero. If Pay Now is enabled for your gateway the customer can actually change it themselves.
My Payment Gateway settles net of commission. Can you handle that?
Yes – as long as the fees are a flat rate per transaction and/or a fixed percentage of the charge. We can create a Spend Money transaction for the fees every time a collection batch is processed. See our Fees on Settlement post about this.
Definitions & Abbreviations
OK – so there are a few TLA (three letter acronyms) and other jargon on this site. Here are a few definitions – drop them around at your next office party or BBQ and watch people move away fast!
- Gateway: this is the service that actually collects the money from your customer from your customer’s account and transfers it into yours. These are nice people! The term is usually used for credit card services, but we apply it to all the interfaces that we integrate with. We use the terms Payment Processor, Payment Gateway, Payment Provider, and even Bank interchangeably – they all mean the same thing here (we like to spread the love around).
- CSV: Comma Separated File – a text file containing data where each piece of data is separated by commas or line breaks. These are really useful for importing or exporting data between systems.
- Contact / Client / Customer: these are the people who you want to collect money from.
- Organization: this is your business
- Ledger: this is your accounting software that we connect to
- ACH: Automated Clearing House – a US central clearing process for electronic transactions. In our context we refer to electronic checks that are processed through the ACH system.
- Direct Debit: The method of debiting (charging) someone one else’s bank account (as opposed to a credit card) for an amount due based on their prior-approval. In the US this is know as ACH or eCheck and in Canada it is known as a Pre-Authorized Debit (PAD).
- API: Application Programming Interface – the way that computer systems can talk to each other over the internet.
- Direct Type: These are the gateways that allow us to connect directly to them over the internet using an API.
- Upload Type: These are the gateways the require us to prepare a file that has to be uploaded to their software (rather than allowing us to send it directly through an API).
- Merchant Account: this is a facility that a business may have with a Gateway that allows them to accept credit cards. Technically the merchant account and the gateway are usually separate – but now we’re getting really boring! This is almost the same as Gateway so just think of it as a package!
- Z: pronounced “zed” not “zee” and belongs next to the letter N (that is: “NZ” pronounced “Enn Zed” – short for New Zealand and all things creative and good!)