variable recurring payments

What are variable recurring payments

Recurring payments have become integral to our financial lives, from monthly subscriptions to utilities and membership fees. These automated transactions ensure convenience and consistency, making it easier for both consumers and businesses to manage regular expenses. However, as the payment landscape evolves, a new form of recurring payment is gaining traction: variable recurring payments (VRPs). VRPs offer greater flexibility and adaptability compared to fixed recurring payments. In this article, we will delve into what VRPs are, how they work, and their benefits, along with the context of open banking and real-world use cases.

What is an example of a recurring payment?

Definition and explanation

Recurring payments are automated transactions where a customer authorizes a merchant to collect payments regularly, typically monthly. This setup ensures that payments are made consistently without requiring manual intervention each time.

Common examples

  • Subscription services: Popular services like Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon Prime charge customers a monthly fee automatically.
  • Membership fees: Gyms, clubs, and professional associations often use recurring payments for their monthly or annual membership fees.
  • Utility bills: Services such as electricity, water, and internet providers commonly use recurring payments to ensure timely bill payments.

These examples illustrate the widespread use of recurring payments in various sectors, making life easier for consumers by automating routine expenses.

How do you handle recurring payments?

Setting up recurring payments

Setting up recurring payments involves a few straightforward steps for both businesses and consumers:

  1. Customer Authorization: The customer agrees to the recurring payment terms, usually during the sign-up or purchase process.
  2. Payment Details: The customer provides their payment information, such as a credit card or bank account number.
  3. Schedule and Amount: The merchant sets up the payment schedule and amount according to the agreed terms.
  4. Confirmation: The customer receives a confirmation of the recurring payment setup, detailing the schedule and amount.

Tools and platforms

Various tools and platforms facilitate the setup and management of recurring payments. Some of the popular options include:

  • PayPal: Offers seamless recurring payment options for subscriptions and memberships.
  • Stripe: Provides robust APIs for businesses to set up and manage recurring payments.
  • Square: Simplifies recurring billing for small businesses and freelancers.

These platforms offer comprehensive solutions to manage recurring payments, ensuring reliability and security.

Management tips

Managing recurring payments effectively involves monitoring transactions, maintaining clear communication with customers, and ensuring data security. Here are some best practices:

  • Regular Monitoring: Keep an eye on recurring transactions to quickly identify and resolve any issues.
  • Customer Communication: Send reminders and confirmations to customers about upcoming and completed payments.
  • Security: Use encryption and secure payment gateways to protect customer payment information.

Implementing these practices helps businesses maintain trust and reduce payment-related issues.

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What are the disadvantages of recurring payments?

Potential drawbacks

While recurring payments offer many benefits, they also come with some potential drawbacks:

  • Accidental Charges: Customers may forget about a subscription or membership, leading to unexpected charges.
  • Difficulty in Cancellation: Some services make it challenging for customers to cancel recurring payments, leading to frustration.
  • Lack of Transparency: Customers may not always have clear visibility into the terms and conditions of recurring payments.

Consumer concerns

To address these concerns, businesses should ensure transparency and provide easy options for managing and canceling subscriptions. Clear communication and user-friendly interfaces can help mitigate these issues and enhance customer satisfaction.

What is a variable recurring payment?

Definition and explanation

Variable recurring payments (VRPs) are a type of recurring payment where the amount varies based on usage or other factors. Unlike fixed recurring payments, which remain constant, VRPs adjust to reflect actual usage or consumption.


Examples of VRPs include:

  • Utility Bills: Bills for electricity, gas, and water can vary each month based on consumption.
  • Usage-Based Subscriptions: Some software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies charge based on the number of users or the volume of data used.
  • Insurance Premiums: Premiums that adjust based on risk factors or coverage levels.

These examples illustrate how VRPs offer flexibility and align payments more closely with actual usage, providing benefits for both consumers and businesses.

Which banks offer variable recurring payments?

Bank adoption

Several banks have started offering VRPs as part of their services, integrating them into their digital banking platforms. Some of the leading banks in this area include:

  • HSBC: Offers VRPs for various services, providing customers with flexible payment options.
  • Barclays: Has integrated VRPs into its banking app, allowing customers to manage their payments easily.
  • Lloyds Bank: Provides VRPs for utilities and other variable expenses.

These banks are leading the way in adopting VRPs, offering innovative solutions to meet the evolving needs of their customers.

Future trends

As the demand for flexible payment options grows, more banks are expected to adopt VRPs. The integration of VRPs with digital banking and open banking platforms will likely drive further innovation and adoption in the financial sector.

Use cases for VRPs

Business applications

Businesses can leverage VRPs to enhance their payment processes and offer greater flexibility to their customers. Some use cases include:

  • Utility Companies: Charging customers based on their actual consumption of electricity, water, or gas.
  • Telecommunications Providers: Billing customers for variable usage of data, calls, and messages.
  • Subscription Services: Offering usage-based pricing models for SaaS products or media services.

These applications demonstrate how VRPs can align payments with actual usage, improving customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

Consumer benefits

For consumers, VRPs offer several advantages:

  • Flexibility: Payments that vary based on usage provide greater control over expenses.
  • Transparency: Customers can see exactly what they are paying for, leading to better budgeting and financial planning.
  • Convenience: Automated VRPs eliminate the need for manual payments, reducing the risk of missed payments.

These benefits make VRPs an attractive option for consumers looking for more adaptable and transparent payment solutions.

Case studies

Many businesses have successfully implemented VRPs to improve their payment processes. For instance:

  • Energy Companies: Implementing VRPs to bill customers based on their monthly energy consumption, leading to more accurate and fair billing.
  • Telecom Providers: Using VRPs to charge customers for their actual data usage, resulting in more flexible and customer-friendly billing options.

These case studies highlight the practical benefits of VRPs for both businesses and consumers.

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VRPs and open banking

Integration with open banking

Open banking, which allows third-party financial service providers to access bank data with customer consent, is playing a crucial role in the adoption of VRPs. By integrating VRPs with open banking, financial institutions can offer more personalized and flexible payment solutions.

Benefits of integration

Integrating VRPs with open banking provides several benefits:

  • Enhanced Security: Open banking standards ensure secure data sharing and transaction processing.
  • Improved Customer Experience: Customers can manage their VRPs through a single interface, simplifying payment management.
  • Innovation: Open banking fosters innovation by allowing third-party providers to develop new VRP-based services.

These benefits highlight the potential of VRPs and open banking to transform the payment landscape.

Future outlook

The future of VRPs looks promising, especially with the continued growth of open banking. As more banks and financial institutions adopt these technologies, we can expect to see increased innovation and broader adoption of VRPs.

Variable recurring payments FAQs

What is the difference between fixed and variable recurring payments? 

Fixed recurring payments remain constant each billing cycle, while variable recurring payments fluctuate based on usage or other factors.

How can businesses ensure transparency with VRPs? 

Businesses can ensure transparency by providing clear billing statements and detailed usage information, allowing customers to see exactly what they are paying for.

What industries benefit most from VRPs? 

Industries such as utilities, telecommunications, and SaaS benefit greatly from VRPs, as they often involve variable usage and consumption.

Are VRPs secure? 

Yes, VRPs are secure, especially when integrated with open banking standards that ensure secure data sharing and transaction processing.

How do VRPs impact customer satisfaction? 

VRPs can improve customer satisfaction by offering flexible, transparent, and convenient payment options that align with actual usage and preferences.

Variable recurring payments (VRPs) represent a significant advancement in the world of payments, offering flexibility, transparency, and convenience. By understanding how VRPs work and their benefits, businesses can enhance their payment processes and improve customer satisfaction. As open banking continues to evolve, VRPs will play an increasingly important role in the financial ecosystem.

If you want to learn more about how variable recurring payments can benefit your business, contact Gr4vy to book a demo and discover how our payment orchestration solutions can help you enhance security and efficiency in your payment processes.