If you’ve ever set up an automatic ‘Bill Pay’ feature on your bank account to pay off your utility and cable bills, then you’ve taken advantage of a nifty feature called an ‘interbank transfer’, also known as an ‘Automated Clearing House’ payment. Once they’re set up, they tend to be very convenient — the amount of the bill is automatically deducted from your account, saving you the hassle of having to write yet another check (or fill out another online form) each month. Merchants benefit from this system as well, because their fees are significantly lower than those that are charged by the credit card companies.

Thing is, this feature is typically only available for paying bills from big companies — it’s rare to see a smaller online merchant that’s offering these automatic transfers, because the process for them to set it up is complicated and costly. Until now. Y Combinator-backed startup GoCardless is launching today as a UK-based service that allows smaller merchants to easily set up interbank transfers for customers.

Part of Y Combinator’s Summer 2011 class, GoCardless was founded in 2010 by Oxford graduates Hiroki Takeuchi, Tom Blomfield and Matt Robinson. GoCardless is also announcing a $1.5 million round led by Accel Partners, Passion Capital, SV Angel, Start Fund, and Y Combinator. Proceeds will go towards building out the team and product, and expanding the merchant base.