Quick, convenient payments with digital payment systems

Digital school payment systems can benefit school staff, students and families, simplifying payments and decreasing the need for cash.

How much cash do you have in your wallet right now? For most people, the answer will likely be none.

As society moves away from cash in favour of digital payments, and we all carry less cash daily, it makes sense for schools to also reduce their reliance on cash. Digital payment systems provide a secure, easy to use solution, which can benefit the school, students, and parents.

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Most existing payment points in your school can be incorporated into digital payment systems. Terminals at pay points can integrate with your digital payment system, and allow for in-person payments. Some systems accept credit or debit cards, while other set-ups have system specific cards which can be used by students, parents, and staff. Terminals could be set up at your school tuckshop, uniform shop, main office, or library.

Digital payment systems offer the added convenience of remote purchasing. Using an app or the school website, parents can order tuckshop, uniforms, or pay for excursions and other events. This eliminates the need for students to carry cash to school, which they may lose or have stolen. Parents are also in control of their purchases, and do not need to task students with purchasing uniforms or other school supplies. This may be of particular benefit for families with younger students, who may not have the confidence to conduct these transactions themselves.

Ordering ahead can alleviate pressures on busy school tuckshops and uniform shops. Staff levels can be adjusted on a weekly or daily basis, depending on the expected workload. Stock levels can be more easily maintained, if staff know ahead of time what students will be purchasing that day.

digital payment

Some systems incorporate school fee payments, providing a complete solution for managing payments. Automatic reminders for late payments, account reconciliation and accurate reporting can all be facilitated by digital payment systems. As well as reducing the likelihood of errors, this can ease the workload on school finance officers, allowing them to focus on other tasks. Parents will also benefit from peace of mind that the school is accurately recording fee payments. This can increase families’ confidence in the school, and improve the overall perception students and parents have of the school.

Of course, with more people making payments to and at the school digitally, there will be less cash handling required by school staff. This can improve safety and security, and reduce the risk of theft. The need for staff to manually balance tills will be removed, and subsequently the incidences of human error in reconciling cash will reduce. For some parents, knowing they will not have to handle cash may make volunteering in the school tuckshop more appealing.

James Biddle, Head of Sales and Marketing, Flexischools, highlighted the effect mobile phone bans have had on payments at schools. “Many of the schools we work with hadn’t considered the impact that mobile phone bans would have on the ability for students – particularly high school students – to make purchases at school.

“Canteens we work with in NSW reported a drop in over-the-counter sales, some in the vicinity of 20 to 30 percent since the mobile ban was introduced at NSW public high schools, driven largely by students being unable to access their phone to tap-to-pay during lunch and recess breaks.” Mr Biddle said.

“The simplest and most cost-effective solution is for schools to turn their existing student cards or library cards into a payment device, by linking them with a digital payment system. That way, parents can maintain a digital wallet, and the student can simply scan their card at the school canteen, in the library for photocopying, or the school bookshop to buy resources, and the payment is made from the account. This means schools can maintain their phone-free policies, while students can still transact on campus without cash, or needing their phone.

 And there are more advantages for school canteens. “School canteens are under enormous pressure to reduce costs. Volunteer labour is less available today, and increasing staffing costs mean that canteens often have to decide whether it is viable to offer their services to the community as regularly as they might like,” Mr Biddle said. “By taking online orders and payments, most canteens tell us they save around two hours a day, by not having to handle cash, and take orders over the counter.

“Pre-orders also mean that the canteen can manage their staffing based on anticipated demand, and importantly, manage their food waste, by preparing food to order.”

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