Are Flexible Payment Options The Key To Unlocking The Full Potential Of Public Services?

Jan 27, 2015

Payments solutions provider allpay believes that the government’s troubled Universal Credit (UC) benefits programme could be saved by introducing more flexible payment options.

“The roll out of UC will simplify the fragmented approach to the current benefits but will also bring with it some challenges – particularly for those living in social housing who have been used to having their housing costs paid direct to their landlord,” the firm’s market intelligence consultant Ross Macmillan told 24N.

“The way that allpay helps is primarily through our wide range of payment options, providing multiple and flexible ways for tenants to pay their rent across cash, debit/credit card acceptance and direct debits.

“Direct Debits will become hugely important for landlords to secure the rental income. Unlike antiquated paper-based processes that many landlords and local authorities still use today, our cloud-based service collects payments on any day, allowing the resident to choose a collection day close to when they receive their UC.

“This subsequently increases the likelihood of payment for the landlord and lowers the risk of the resident incurring bank charges for unpaid transactions,” he added.

According to Macmillan, social landlords will have more rent to collect under UC and while Direct Debit may be the most cost-effective and safe option for them, this isn’t always the case for their tenants.

By offering tenants multiple methods and “anytime, anywhere” options to pay their rent, claims Macmillan, people will have no excuses not to pay the correct amount on time.

“There is a huge industry around online and mobile collections – which is another example of using technology to aid convenience and choice,” the consultant claimed.

“Evidence we have from our own mobile payment solution is that people are becoming more confident to use their phone for payment, not just for smaller retail transactions, but also for bill payments.

“The average mobile payment we process is around £140. It shows that if you develop innovative and flexible payment solutions that improve current processes, there is the appetite from citizens to use them, which ultimately ends up benefitting the bill issuer who receives prompt payment,” he added.


Digital Efficiency

Macmillan also supports the government’s digital efficiency drive, claiming that it ultimately reduces costs.

“The government’s intention to modernise its payment and transactional platforms is being seen right across central and local government – seen more recently by the Department for Transport allowing motorists to set up direct debits online for vehicle tax renewals,” Macmillan claimed.

“Analysis shows that more complex transactions, and more particularly those that include a financial transfer, have a greater potential for savings by being digitised.

“However, balancing in efficiency and accessibility will be key to re-shaping services for the digital age, for example, retaining postal or counter services through high street networks like the Post Office and PayPoint, which allow people across the UK to pay for household bills and government services such as council tax, court fines and vehicle tax renewals,” he added.


All About allpay

Founded in 1996, allpay’s primary focus is on local government and housing associations. Its clients include Bron Afon, North Hertfordshire Homes, Surrey County Council and Wyre Forest Council to name a few.

However, the firm has also done work with central government, utility companies, insurance companies and schools as well, but the majority of customers are from the public sector.

Macmillan claims that organisations that handle and collect a lot of cash all the potential to benefit from allpay solutions.

One such benefit is the electronic nature of the company’s solutions – no paper is involved at all, allowing public sector organisations to move towards the government’s digital by default agenda, while all organisations can experience the environmental benefits, as well as saving resources.

“allpay has a deep understanding and proven track record of streamlining payment systems across central and local government, which has driven efficiency through technology and reduced costs,” he claimed.

“As part of this, we offer the widest range of payment collection methods across cash, debit/credit card and Direct Debit acceptance.

“If there’s one thing that public sector organisations absolutely need to achieve – from local authorities to central government agencies – it is to maximise cost effectively for the collection of payments,” he added.


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