Our Overall Rating:

Smart Debit

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Friday, February 22nd, 2019
Best Payment Providers

What We Like

SmartDebit offers competitive rates for direct debit and check processing services in the UK. Also, its team was knowledgeable, professional, and responsive.

What We Didn't Like

SmartDebit offers merchant services through payment giant, Global Payments. Also, the standard three-year contract Global Payments comes with automatic renewal clause. Also, no pricing is listed for merchant services because it is offered through a third party.


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Marketing

Sales

Support

Pricing

Overall

Overview

SmartDebit Payment Solutions is a direct debit provider that helps millions of businesses in the UK collect payments via checks and direct debits for subscriptions, direct deposits, and rent, loan, and lease payments. Founded in Bagshot, Surrey in 1998, SmartDebit today processes more than more than £1.4 billion in transactions for clients annually.

SmartDebit offers merchant services through one of the largest credit card processors in the United States, the Atlanta-based Global Payments. Global Payments is a worldwide provider of payment technology and software solutions to customers globally. With more than 10,000 employees worldwide, it is a direct processor specializing in processing for merchants of all sizes in every sector. Processing is available in 140 currencies and settlement is available in 15 currencies. It has customers and partners in 30 countries throughout North America, Europe, the Asia-Pacific region and Brazil.

Marketing

In general, SmartDebit markets its services through its referral partners and within the digital. It bypasses most traditional advertising avenues. We applaud SmartDebit for not promoting any misleading teaser rates on it sites or any other place that it markets its services. Instead, it is straightforward about its marketing uses examples of the fees merchants can expect to pay. This is a much more transparent approach, then listing starting at rates.

Honesty

As of this review, SmartDebit states on its site that it offers online card processing for e-commerce businesses through Realex Payments, which is a division of Global Payments Inc., one of the largest global merchant service providers, handling more than £26 billion transactions per year. Therefore, any business that signs up for a merchant account with SmartDebit is actually handled by Realex Payments, using its software, security, and management.

However, when we attempted to view the terms and pricing on Realex Payments’ site, we were immediately re-directed to Global Payments. This leads us to believe that Global Payments has fully taken over Realex and handles its merchants services. Though this is not dishonest, per se. We believe it would be transparent if this was mentioned on SmartDebit’s site. Merchants should be made clearly aware that if they have trouble or have questions related to a merchant account, they will be dealing with a major player in the payments industry.

Sales

SmartDirect is an independent sales organization and one of many of Global Payments’ resellers. Global Payments relies heavily on its partnerships with independent sales agents to build its customer base. Though this is a fairly sales strategy for large merchant service providers, it has its flaws. In many cases, resellers can set their own rates and are more difficult to control and monitor. The end result can be a nightmare for merchants. They often are given misleading prices or not told of certain terms or fees.

Support

SmartDebit customer support is available over the phone or through an online help desk, or you peruse its online tutorials. However, if you have questions or concerns about a merchant account and its services, you will need to reach out directly to Global Payments, which is available by phone and email.

Global Payments also offers numerous resources and documentation in its UK Customer Centre, which offers everything, from facts about credit card processing to merchant news. A help desk line is available for customers who can’t find answers using the centre. Lines are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding public holidays.

Staff Education

During our interactions, we found representatives to be very knowledgeable and confident and well trained. They were quick to ask questions and to offer intelligent answers. We felt the team was led by an experienced staff.

Staff Interaction

In addition to being a knowledgeable staff, representatives were professional, helpful, and courteous during our interactions. They gave clear responses and gave easy-to-understand instructions in terms of signing up.

Staff Responsiveness

When we sent an email, we received a response almost immediately. We found this very positive. However, the responses only encouraged us to call sales for additional information. After many efforts, we did reach someone in sales. At first, he was courteous and eager to make the sale, but we started to feel pressured toward the end of the call.

Pricing

SmartDebit offers three services options. Bureau service is designed for businesses that automate a lot of direct debit processing (more than with more than £1m in turnover). This service is for businesses that have their own Service User Number (SUN) from their bank.

Facilities Managed service promises that same services offered under Bureau except there are no turnover requirements. With the Managed service, clients send all of their data to SmartDebit and it completes the submission. Finally, SEPA Direct Debit service is for clients that collect recurring payments from customers in Europe. Customers are onboarded online, over the phone, or in person and it comes direct debit and card payments. It supports transactions in 34 countries, including the UK, France, Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Italy.

Pricing depends on transaction volume. On its site, SmartDebit provides an example of what a client would pay if they were processing 3,000 transactions per month.

Costs under Bureau:

  • Set-up Fee £199
  • Monthly Fee £30
  • Transaction Fee 20p

Costs under Managed:

  • Set-up Fee £250
  • Monthly Fee £35
  • Transaction Fee 29p
  • File Submission Fee £5

Costs under online card processing:

  • Monthly Fee £19
  • Transaction Fee 1.75% plus 9p

Transaction fees for SEPA direct deposit start at 1.5% per transaction. As a client’s transaction volume grows, they should expect reduced transaction costs. Global Payments does not list any pricing on its site, so for merchant account pricing you will need to request a quote directly through SmartDebit or the merchant service provider.

Hardware Costs

SmartDebit does not offer any point-of-sale machines or card readers for merchants to take in-person or contactless payments.

Early Termination Fees

It appears as though SmartDebit does not require a contract for its direct debit and check services. However, those that sign up for a merchant account with SmartDebit actually will be entering into contracts with Global Payments. Under the standard three-year contract, merchants get a virtual terminal and payment gateway. Ending the agreement early results in a variable early termination fee of up to £358. The agreement is automatically renewed for one year after the initial term, according to Global Payments’ general business conditions. After the original fixed term, you can terminate the agreement by giving no less than one month’s written notice.

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