Payments and Transactions in Higher Education

Less than ten years ago, cash was king in UK universities. Card terminals were a rare sight in finance offices, student unions, university shops, gyms and other student facilities.higher education

Big ticket items – tuition fees and accommodation – were and still are paid using bank transfer, although demand for other payment methods has led may higher education institutions to provide online payments. Smaller, everyday transactions that were once made using cash – or even a cheque – are now paid for with credit and debit cards both online and offline.

Factor in international students too, and having robust payment solutions to ensure tuition fees, accommodation and other items are paid for in a timely and convenient way is essential. At the same time convenience and customer demand must be balanced with security and the risk of fraud.

Academic institutions and student unions were slow to make these changes, but recent developments in the payment industry mean that they can’t delay implementing new options for customers.

Modern Payment Tools For Universities

Dynamic Currency Conversion (DDC). For tuition fees paid by international students there are a few additional challenges with taking payments. Exchange rates fluctuate and students may be unaware of what fee amounts will actually equate to in their home currency. This can cause problems for universities and students. DCC can help with this, reducing chargebacks, removes FX exposure and also can increase revenues. For more on DCC download our whitepaper – Dynamic Currency Conversion.

Near Field Communication (NFC). As a payment option, NFC-enabled credit and debit cards are popular, especially amongst younger consumers. Although, they have one downside for anyone watching their money since transactions can take longer to reflect on the balance than other payment methods. The latest smartphone models are also NFC-enabled, giving students another convenient payment option and one that universities should be ready to handle.

Mobile payments: Apps and responsive websites. Younger generations are also at the forefront of the consumer trend shifting ecommerce purchases from websites and tablets to smartphones.

Despite worries, Brexit had no noticeable impact on ecommerce sales, with 2016 results expecting to show that smartphone use – as a percentage of online retail figures – is up 82.8%, according to an IMRG-Capgemini study. Catering for students’ needs with apps and responsive websites will deliver an enhanced customer experience, whilst also reducing payment processing costs and admin overheads associated with traditional payment methods.

Mobile Wallets (mWallets). So far, mWallet adoption in the UK has not been spectacular. However, we should expect a renewed push from banks, payment providers and technology giants in 2017, with more customers adopting these payment options, especially students and younger generations.

Biometrics and Selfies? A study by Visa in Europe found that 73% of customers want to use biometrics as a secure authentication method. Fingerprints are the most popular option. With many consumers using this as a way to secure smartphones, why not validate payments this way? Selfies also offer another payment validation method, using facial recognition software and geolocation tags to provide another layer of security. Amazon has even filled a patent for a selfie payment system.

Offering a variety of payment methods that address student / customer’s preferences is a logical way to ensure consumers have the means to make payments using methods natural to them. Universities and student unions are businesses, and like any large operation, they need to adapt according to their customer’s needs. We already see a proliferation of NFC-enabled payments. Next, we could soon see biometric and selfie-enabled security across British universities.

Download our whitepaper on Dynamic Currency Conversion for Higher Education here.