The days of suppliers waiting for written or verbal authorisations from you to initiate a debit order from your bank account are over. Fintech start-up Direct Debit has launched E-Mandate, a valid electronic agreement facility that allows you to sign and authorise debit orders and recurring-payment transactions online from any web-enabled device.

Jaco van Wyk, co-founder of Direct Debit, says: "E-Mandate allows customers to sign an electronic debit-order mandate with a mouse, stylus or their finger, thereby giving debit-order authority to the supplier. Previously, the sign-up process came to a grinding halt because the supplier had to wait to receive paper or voice authorisations. Customers are now able to sign up easily and quickly. The electronic signature gives instant debit order, card-not-present or recurring credit card authority."

E-Mandate has received approval from the Payments Association of South Africa (Pasa), and its sponsoring financial institution is Mercantile Bank.

In the past, you could sign documents electronically, but the challenge came when authority for banking-level transactions was required.

Van Wyk says: "We had to work hard to get E-Mandate approved by Pasa. Thanks to the groundwork we have done, Pasa now makes provision for customer authorisations using voice, paper and electronic means. Our E-Mandate agreement is the first of its kind in South Africa.

"The take-up has been from suppliers that want to go from offline to online sales or from once-off product sales to subscriptions. Our biggest response has been from businesses offering insurance products such as funeral cover and life insurance, non-profit organisations wanting to automate online and face-to-face donations, as well as from information technology companies."

After completing and signing the E-Mandate form, both the business and the customer receive a copy of the agreement, which is stored in the cloud for seven years, as set out by Pasa.