What is a customer reference number?
Your customer reference number (CRN) is a number that appears on each bill you send. The number is unique and can range anywhere from two to 20 numbers. As the business owner, you generate the number — it is not something set in stone or assigned by BPAY. Because the number is unique, customers can direct funds your way without having to provide any sensitive personal information. By looking at the CRN, you should know precisely who is providing you payment, so long as you keep diligent records.
Business owners in Australia typically use CRNs in two ways. The first is by using the same CRN number for each customer. For instance, imagine you purchase supplies from Joe’s Wholesale. You assign the CRN 556809 to this account. Whenever you send a BPAY to Joe’s Wholesale, you include the 556809 number. You can easily track all BPAY transactions associated with Joe’s Wholesale account.
The other way that business owners use CRNs is by treating them like invoice numbers. In this case, you change the CRN with each invoice you submit. Let’s say that in addition to Joe’s Wholesalers, you also work with Sarah’s Supplies.
When you send a BPAY bill to Joe’s Wholesalers, you use the CRN 0001. Then, when you send the next bill to Sarah’s Supplies, you use CRN 0002. This allows you to keep track of your BPAY requests chronologically. If you expect to receive multiple payments from a customer in a single billing period, you may find that this ‘variable CRN’ method works better.
The other thing that you may come across when setting up BPAY is an iCRN, short for ‘intelligent customer reference number’. You’ll need to work with your bank to set up your iCRN. An iCRN is an option that gives you a bit more control over when you receive payment on the bills that you submit to customers.
iCRNs allow you to set a specific amount for the customer to pay or a maximum amount that the customer is allowed to pay. They allow you to set a pay-by date for your bills as well. You can set a cut-off so that if customers pay after this date, they’ll owe additional funds in late fees.