As a provider of payment schemes, Bacs is ideally positioned to raise standards within the industry. The charter outlines our commitment to contribute to a better society and demonstrates how we are integrating environmental and social concerns into our business strategies and operations.
1. Be professional, equitable and ethical in all our dealings and relationships
Our ultimate aim is to carry out our business responsibly and to conduct ourselves in a way that continues to earn the trust and respect of our Bacs participants, service users, consumers, and other stakeholders, while working for the benefit of the wider communities in which we operate.
2. Play our part in providing equal access to financial products for all
Financial inclusion and equal access to financial services are issues we are dedicated to. In support of the Government's stated intention to improve access and use of financial products amongst the socially excluded, we are focused on helping all people understand and embrace the benefits of automated payments through development of our products, policies, marketing campaigns, and personalised advice services.
In line with our commitment to the Financial Inclusion Taskforce, we are working with organisations such as the Citizens' Advice Bureau, Consumer Council (Northern Ireland), the FSA, and National Association of Student Money Advisors, to ensure we can contribute to tackling this issue. Our consumer website has a dedicated area aimed at addressing the concerns of those on low incomes, and we offer educational materials to aid adults and students who may need assistance with financial issues.
3. Recognise the importance of educating the next generation on the principles of sound money management and contribute towards positive initiatives in this area
Bacs aims to support personal finance education in line with the National Curriculum and recognises the importance of equipping children with the knowledge and skills to enable them to avoid financial difficulties in adulthood. We believe we can contribute to the achievement of this goal and frequently examine ways in which we can educate the next generation of bill payers.
4. Pioneer and utilise new technologies to minimise the impact of Bacs on the environment
The very nature of our business enables us to minimise impact on the environment, as paying bills by Direct Debit and utilising Bacs Direct Credit for benefits, salary, and supplier payments represents a more environmentally responsible choice than traditional payment methods such as cheques. Indeed, an independent audit undertaken by Carbon Footprint Ltd, found that the environmental impact (carbon footprint) of the cheque is 65 times greater than that of Direct Debit.
We continue to drive forward significant developments, with the ultimate aim of automating all elements of our payments processes, further enhancing the Schemes' positive environmental impact. Among these innovations designed to deliver a significantly reduced paper process are: Automation of all messaging and return payment advices (A Services), Direct Debit Indemnity Claim Automation (DDICA), the Automated Direct Debit Instruction Service (AUDDIS), and Paperless Direct Debit.
We also carry this commitment to the environment into the operation of our own business, where we constantly seek ways in which to reduce our impact on the environment. These efforts include the use of electronic communications over paper-based options when communicating both internally and in support of service users wherever possible and appropriate (for example in the provision of training).
Bacs is proud to be a carbon positive organisation and annually offsets its processing and business travel CO2 emissions through Verified Carbon Standard projects and tree planting schemes.
5. Safeguard the interests of our stakeholders, service users and consumers by practicing excellence in financial security
We are proud of our excellent track record and take business continuity and the provision of a secure, reliable, and cost effective payments service very seriously. We set high entry standards to our Schemes and meticulous quality requirements of our Bacs participants, working with them to place stringent checks on service users and actively monitoring these organisations via the sponsorship structure.
Protecting consumer rights is fundamental, which is why we have a safeguard in place in the form of the Direct Debit Guarantee. This Guarantee is offered by all payment service providers who accept instructions for Direct Debit, and includes the reassurance for their customers of an immediate, money back guarantee if an error is made in the payment of their Direct Debit.
6. Make CSR a factor in our choice of suppliers
As part of our ongoing evaluation of suppliers we assess the compatibility of their operations, procedures and values in relation to our own guiding principles.
7. Work to be a positive part of the industry in which we operate
We believe we have a positive role within the financial industry and are committed to ethical best practice to underpin a financially inclusive society.
We place significant investment in researching the needs of our diverse audiences and monitoring our performance against them. This research informs a rolling development programme which ensures the demands of stakeholders, service users, and consumers are met consistently, and help and assistance provided as required.
In addition, by developing a communications platform through our affiliate network we have enabled these members to exchange views and have their say in determining the shape and future of electronic payments in the UK.