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In Europe and in my experience a lot in Germany, direct debit is a commonly used payment method – no matter if for single payments or subscriptions. Credit Cards on the other hand are much less widespread. Instead there are still many households who don’t even own one. And cheques and paying with them are basically not available. So offering direct debit using the standardized SEPA options therefore are important for many European online shops.

How to use SEPA for WooCommerce Subscriptions

Basically, there are three different ways to offer direct debit. One can either use a payment service provider where customers have to sign up as well, like PayPal or Sofort Überweisung. I will not mention these any further, as this article focuses on two ways, where the customer does not need to be subscribed to any often only country-wide service.

Therefore, the other two methods are:

SEPA service providers

The benefits of using a payment service providers are that they take care of the mandate and the payments, as well as refunding. So it’s a lot less work for the store owner.

The drawback though is, that one usually has to wait a couple of days to actually receive the payment on the personal/store account and that there always is some fee for their services.

There are always service providers, who are something similar to SEPA. The probably most popular one is PayPal. But this definitely is not the only option.

A service I have made really good experiences with is GoCardless. They are based in the UK, take care of all the payments – no matter if subscription or single payment – and will transfer the amounts to your account after 2 weeks. And the fees are very reasonable with only 1%.

I found different plugins for the integration in your WooCommerce Store. I used the GoCardless extension offered by WooCommerce. It is updated to the new API settings GoCardless integrated a couple of months ago and the setup is quite simple. As soon as it’s set up and activated, you can use it for your WooCommerce Subscriptions.

Customers will be redirected to their payment site, hand in their credentials and you get an instance notice. When logged in, you can see the date of the transfer from the customer and when the money will be transferred to you.

Collecting the info and creating the mandate yourself

If you want to manage the SEPA mandates yourself and have it all set up with your personal bank, all you need from your customers is the mandate agreement and the account details.

To add SEPA to your store checkout, I like using Sepa Payment Gateway for WooCommerce. The setup is simple, as you only need to add your account for the mandate, look through the wording and you are ready to go.

When choosing direct debit in the checkout, the plugin will display new fields, where the customer has to add the account holders name, IBAN and BIC. They can then be checked for validity and matching names.

After ordering, you can find these details in the order and you can export the details via XML – which you can then use to create the payment with your bank. The orders will not get marked as paid. Depending on your subscription, you should remember to change that status when you have the direct debit set up.

As the plugin also has no way to check of the payment went through, there will always be an automatic renewal of the subscription. But you have to mark it as paid, when you receive the money.