How governments can save money and improve service by digitizing payments

Wednesday, September 18, 2019 8:46 am EDT

By:

Marlen Prato, head of strategic markets, public sector, Elavon

Government agencies are always under public scrutiny, where demand is high to continuously improve and expand services. One area the public sector still lags behind private industry is consumer payments. But while modernizing the payment experience can take a backseat to high-profile priorities, making it easy and convenient for citizens to complete transactions is a critical component of successful service delivery. Digitization of payment and billing not only offers a seamless experience for citizens – it also saves time and money through cost and operational efficiencies. 

Updating how your payments are accepted and processed is a win-win for both government agencies and citizens. For your organization, some of the advantages include saving money (and the environment) by reducing the number of paper invoices sent by postal mail. It also offers robust reporting, decision-ready analytics, and less time spent by staff responding to inbound payment inquiries by phone and email. Balancing, reconciling and reporting will become more automated, which also helps free up staff to work on other activities and projects that benefit the public. You can even encourage timely payer behavior with integrated communications and reminders.

Your constituents will appreciate access to technology-driven choices they expect and use in the private sector, whether it’s mobile, online or in person. This includes features like access to their payment history and the flexibility of one-time, recurring or future-dated payments. Plus, access to convenient, easy payment and billing options not only increases consumer satisfaction – it also increases the likelihood of them paying and paying faster. This helps ensure your organization has the revenue and cash flow it needs to effectively provide the services the public depends on. Finally, increased financial inclusion for potentially underbanked citizens is something society as a whole benefits from.

Clearly, payments digitization can pay off in many ways. But there are several processing options on the market, and it’s important to get the best value for money to ensure you remain fiscally responsible while getting the features that improve efficiency and consumer experience.

With that in mind, here are some things to consider when choosing an electronic billing and payments solution:

Streamline with a single vendor. While there are many options for vendors that can handle various components of a biller solution, working with a single vendor for bill presentment, payments and communications across departments and agencies provides immense value. By selecting one vendor, you can streamline and simplify implementation as well as reporting and back-office processes throughout your organization. It also allows you to deliver a consistent, intuitive user experience across all your payment channels – from point of service to online to self-service kiosks— a concept sometimes referred to as omni-channel payments.

Plan for future innovations. Invest in a solution that offers the payment options and methods your constituents want to use today – and tomorrow. Online, IVR (Interactive Voice Response), mobile wallets and peer-to-peer (P2P) payments are all commonly used by many of your constituents already. But your payments platform shouldn’t stop there. As contactless cards and pay-by-text grow in popularity and voice assistants start processing payments on command, your solution should be ready to support these emerging payment options too. Accepting digital wallets, P2P and pre-paid cards also enables you to improve financial inclusion for underbanked citizens. Look for a fully integrated bill payment platform that includes all these methods, like Paycentric from Elavon. It allows billers to send invoices to payees digitally and for the payer to be able to receive their invoice online and pay however they choose – online, in person, by mail and more.

Ensure trust by prioritizing data security. In the era of hacking and security breaches, protecting citizens’ payment card data is essential. In fact, 70% of citizens have the same or higher quality and privacy expectations for government digital services than commercial, according to a recent survey.[i] That’s why it’s important to choose a reliable, experienced vendor that can secure your card payments while helping to reduce the cost and time to maintain PCI-DSS compliance. An ideal vendor will also possess deep knowledge about your industry and understand how to address the unique payment challenges and opportunities that exist in your environment.

Connecting with the right payments partner can make all the difference in the success of your modernization effort. At Elavon, our payments professionals will work with you to enable efficient and secure transaction processing. Learn how we help government agencies maximize payments with Paycentric, our full-service, electronic bill presentment and payment solution. Visit www.elavon.com/government for more information.

 

About the author: Marlen Prato is head of Elavon’s public sector vertical, supporting the strategic markets account management team under our public sector portfolio. She brings over 20 years in payment processing experience with various roles supporting eCommerce products and strategic operations for national and mid-market customers. Marlen has demonstrated success in strategy, leadership, business development and client-facing roles with core competencies including critical thinking, problem solving, process design, transformation execution, program development, expense rationalization, planning and business analysis. Marlen has also worked with many strategic customers across other product/service categories.  


[i] Accenture Public Service Pulse Survey.

Elavon’s Media Contact:

Katie Lopez 
Corporate Communications 
+1 678-731-5915  
Katie.Lopez@elavon.com

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