Gateway Overview: SEPA/Eurozone Direct Debits


SEPA Xero Direct DebitMost European banks offer Direct Debit facilities using the SEPA XML file format to approved customers through their online banking or PC software.  uCollect can prepare the XML file for you to upload to the bank (the banks do not provide us with an interface to be able to do this on your behalf).

To be able to initiate Direct Debits directly with your bank you need to be approved as a Direct Debit Initiator.

While we have developed our file to the SEPA standards we have noted that some banks have interpreted these standards differently.  Here are some of the common issues we find:

  • requiring fields that are optional in the standards
  • rejecting batches that contain transactions dated on a non-banking day (some just roll these forward automatically)
  • enforcing different load time thresholds (we enforce the SEPA standard 2 day for recurring and final and 5 day for first and one-off transactions)

Please contact us if you receive ANY errors when uploading a file.  We can always create a special profile for your bank, but changes can take a day or two to process.

Creating your Direct Debit Authority

Please contact your bank directly to inquire about this.  It can take some time to go through the approval process.

To set up your gateway in uCollect Add a new Gateway (Edit Organisation, or from the setup wizard) with the following details:

  • Gateway: look for a gateway specifically for your bank/country, or choose the default “SEPA Direct Debits” gateway
  • Xero/Quickbooks Bank Account: Choose the bank account that will receive the settlement funds, or a clearing account.
  • Number of days in advance: set this to be at least the highest value in the Minimum number of days fields.  uCollect counts non-banking days (weekends and holidays) as a day, so you may want to increase this by 2 to allow for a weekend.  This value determines which invoices get included in the batch.  If this is set to 5 then invoices with due/installment dates 5 days from today will be included, which will honor the mandatory buffer values in the next fields.  If you set this value to 0 then payments will not be initiated until the due date and therefore you con’t receive the funds until after the buffer period has expired.
  • Minimum number of days: these two fields allow you to determine the buffer period that payments must be loaded with your bank before they will be collected.  One field covers First (FRST) and one-off (OOFF) payments and the other handles recurring (RCUR) and final (FNAL) payments.  The typical value here is 3 and 2, but each bank has their own rules.
  • Calculate Commission/Fees on Settlement: This option is not appropriate for SEPA DD Files.
  • Pay Now: SEPA DD files are not eligible for Pay Now.
  • Enter your Banking details as prompted. If you are not sure what to include here please contact your bank for clarification
  • In “CORE or B2B” enter ONE of these values only.  The SEPA standards require that each batch be either CORE (consumer) or B2B (businesses) – NEVER BOTH.  If you work with both CORE and B2B transactions you should create two gateways and name them so that you can easily tell them apart (e.g., “Direct Debit – CORE”).
  • Default values for contacts:  You can also set the default values for the Mandate Number, Mandate Date and Remittance Information.  We recommend that you leave the Mandate Number and Date blank.  For Remittance Information you way want to include “[Invoice]” (without the quotes) to have this pre-filled with the Xero/Quickbooks invoice number (if more than one we list the first one and “etc”).

For help on using the Gateway setup screen please see the help page.

We pull the Bank Account number from the Xero/Quickbooks contact record data.  You need to ensure that the bank account number is entered in Xero/Quickbooks in the format XXXXXXXXXXX-YYYYYYYYYYY (where XXXXXXXXXXX is the 8 or 11 characted BIC code and YYYYYYYYYYY is the up to 37 character IBAN code which always starts with 2 letters then 2 numbers).  When you Edit Contact in uCollect we will display the Bank Account number from Xero/Quickbooks so that you can see if it is correctly formatted.

When setting up your contacts in uCollect you must enter the Debtor Mandate Identification Number and Date Debtor Signed Mandate (in the YYYY-MM-DD format).  You an also include Remittance Information.  You can pre-load “[Invoice]” (without the quotes) to have this pre-filled with the Xero/Quickbooks invoice number (if more than one we list the first one and “etc”).

You must also specify the Mandate Type.  After each collection is processed we will change the type as follows:

  • One Off – we remove the uCollect profile as the mandate has now expired and can not be used.
  • Recurring – we don’t change anything
  • First – we change to Recurring
  • Final – we remove the uCollect profile as the mandate has now expired and can not be used.

Because your bank does not give uCollect the ability to submit the DD data directly to them we have to get you involved in the process.  This is not our ideal mode of working!

  1. Every day we check your Xero/Quickbooks ledger to see if you have collections that need to be initiated (we based this on invoices that are due or over due).
  2. If there are collections due by DD file then we will send you an email asking you to log into uCollect.
  3. When you log into uCollect you click on the Generate Now link (or go to Collection History and click Process Now).
  4. uCollect will check again to see what payments are due for collection.  At this stage you can preview this list and suspend any invoices from collection (until further notice).  When ready you click Generate.
  5. uCollect will now generate the DD file and download it to your browser.  If you have multiple payment dates (usually because you have set the “Number of days in advance to initiate”) then we will prepare one file for each date.  We will also mark the invoices as paid in Xero/Quickbooks.
  6. It is ESSENTIAL that you upload the DD file(s) to your internet banking right away.  If you fail to do so payments will not be initiated.

If you are away for a day and payments are due but you don’t generate the DD file in uCollect there is no need to panic.  Simply log back in the next day and any invoices that were due for collection will be included in the current batch.

uCollect may generate multiple files when you generate.  Each collection date must be in a separate file.  Please ensure that you check the screen to see how many files have been created.


Known Issues with the SEPA gateways

We are aware of a few issues with the SEPA format.  Please contact us if these are problems for you and we can help you work around them.

  • When multiple files are created they have the same batch ID number.  Some banks reject the second batch.  To work around this open the XML file in a text editor and change the value between  tags and add the letter A for the second file, B for the third, etc.
  • uCollect files create multiple batches with one payment per batch.  Every batch must contain files of the same transaction type (OOFF, FRST, RCUR and FNAL).  Right now we simply create each transaction in it’s own batch.  We have a work-around that can help with this until our final solution is ready.  Contact us if you are processing higher number of transactions.
  • File name may not be accepted.  Bank of Ireland users need to change the filename to “xxxxxx_PAIN008.xml”
  • uCollect does not send Amendment Information Details in the file.  You will need to notify your bank when your debtor changes their bank account before processing a new debit request through uCollect.
  • uCollect treats non-banking days (weekends and holidays) as available days.  Settings in Number of Days in Advance and Minimum Number of Days are always calendar days, not banking days.  Some bank may reject collections scheduled for non-banking days.  BEFORE generating the file you should check for this and edit the invoice due dates or put in a one-time installment plan to ensure that transactions are on banking days.  Once you have generated the XML file the only way to correct this is to edit the file itself.

Be sure to set the correct Mandate Type in the uCollect Edit Contact screen.  After each collection is processed we will change the type as follows:

  • One Off – we remove the uCollect profile as the mandate has now expired and can not be used.
  • Recurring – we don’t change anything
  • First – we change to Recurring
  • Final – we remove the uCollect profile as the mandate has now expired and can not be used.

If your bank rejects a file it is SUPER IMPORTANT that you capture the reason for the failure.  If it is not displayed please CALL YOUR BANK before you contact us.  We can’t assist with unspecified upload failures.  When you contact us for support please include the error message from the bank as well as the XML file you tried to upload.  Here are some of the more common errors we have seen – one error can reject the entire file:

  • The Debtor account number in the tag contains invalid characters or spaces – the IBAN number format is incorrect.  It must start with two letters (country code), then two numbers (check digits), then the basis bank account number (which may include letters and numbers – depending on the country format).  This is stored in the Xero/Quickbooks contact record.
  • Creditor ID is invalid. Verify your SEPA Direct Debit contract for the correct information – The format is country specific.  You get this value from your bank, and you include it in the Gateway Settings area on the Edit Organisation page.
  • Not a valid value for date – dates should be entered in YYYY-MM-DD format.  Missing a character will cause the file to fail.
  • Bank Account number is not present – uCollect will fail a collection if there is no bank account number in the Xero/Quickbooks contact field.  You will need to correct this and include them in the next batch.
  • Value ” is not facet-valid with respect to pattern – this suggests that a required field was left blank.  Check that all the data in the gateway settings as been filled in as well as the contact Mandate ID and date.
  • Filename failure – you need to change the file name to comply with you’re bank’s unique requirements (e.g., for BOI users it is “xxxx_PAIN008.xml”)

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