22 July 2019
Accepting Payments for the Government Sector: A Guide
The Australian Government’s Digital Transformation Agenda has made clear the government’s emphasis on transforming government and making services simpler, clearer and faster.
Using platforms to facilitate faster, easier and transparent payments for services, such as health and education, for example, is a key component of this agenda.
Federal, state, and city governments have a complex variety of payment needs that must be met. And you serve a diverse demographic of citizens who need to pay their utility bills, taxes, fees, and so much more. Plus, you have employees that must be paid efficiently and on time.
Government agencies need flexible payment solutions that are convenient for the individuals they serve but still provide full transparency and accountability. Read on the know what it takes to streamline your online payments systems, as this is a vital part of keeping your government department close to its communities and citizens.
How a Good Payments Solution Helps Government Departments Streamline Operations
Flexible payment solutions benefit both the government department and the citizens they serve. Here are the four biggest benefits of offering government payment solutions:
Receive payments more promptly
No two people will have the same preferences when it comes to online payment methods. Some people prefer mobile payments, some prefer to pay with their credit cards, others like recurring payments so they don’t have to think about it, and a few still enjoy mailing in a cheque every month.
Allowing citizens to choose their preferred payment option is the best way to reduce points of friction and, as a result, encourage them to pay on-time. This will allow your department to run more smoothly and play a part in keeping the citizens you serve happy.
Meet revenue targets
When consumers pay their bills quickly and on-time, this helps ensure that your revenue collection targets are met. This also saves your office valuable admin time that would otherwise be spent on sending payment reminders. A payments solution that seamlessly integrates with your existing ERP platforms or applications then further facilitates payment processing.
One of the best ways to meet monthly and yearly revenue targets is by automating payments. When consumers can automate utility payments such as their bills and certain recurring fees, this makes their lives easier and gives you one less thing to think about.
Improve customer service standards
Federal and state governments are often seen as inflexible and out of touch. But with the Australian government’s focus on digital transformation, many departments are trying to modernise their image. And one of the best ways to do this is through your payment processing methods.
After all, it’s hard to appear very modern if you still don’t accept online payments or only offer credit card payments. With more flexible payment processing solutions - be it for one-off or recurring payments - your department can improve its customer service standards and do a better job of serving the community.
Reduce admin costs
Automating your revenue collection processes can also help your office reduce admin costs. Payments become simpler, the amount of paperwork you have to deal with is reduced, and you gain clarity and up-to-date reporting. This allows your department to focus on the big picture and avoid getting sucked into busywork.
Payment Features That Simplify Government Department Operations
Now that you understand the benefits that come from accepting a variety of payment solutions, you may be wondering what is the best place to start. Here are some of the most popular government and council payment solutions:
Flexible payment systems
The best place to start is by setting up flexible systems that allow you to accept and manage customer payments. The method you choose is less important than finding something that works for your department. Here are a few options you can consider:
- Call centre payments: Accepting call centre payments is a great way to cater to customers who prefer to pay over the phone. A secure call centre will use Audio Tokenisation to process recurring customer payments.
- Online payments: Of course, online payments are the easiest and fastest way for customers to pay their bills. Be sure to offer a variety of ways for customers to pay online like mobile payments, one-time credit card payments, and recurring charges.
- Cross-channel payments: Offering a way for consumers to make payments both online and offline can reduce your debtor days. And, generally speaking, a variety of payment channels will make payments easier and faster.
Multiple payment channels
The citizens in your community have a number of bills they need to pay every month, in addition to any taxes, fines, and fees that come up. Accepting a variety of payment methods is the best way to ensure these payments are made accurately and on time.
Increasingly, government agencies are recognising the need to accept a variety of payment methods. Different individuals will have different payment preferences and governments are expected to do their best to accommodate all of them.
Here are some of the transaction types that you should consider:
- Phone payments
- Online payments
- Credit card payments
- Debit card payments
- ACH payments
- Mobile payments
Easy hosted payment pages
A hosted payment page is a payment page located outside of the government website. This allows citizens to pay for various services and fees during the checkout process. Once the customer is ready to pay, they are redirected to a secure payment page where they enter their information.
This is a useful feature to offer when you need a quick-to-integrate payment page for a campaign. The payment page will come with checkout design and built-in fraud protection. This can help you accept contributions and get campaign work off the ground in no time.
A complete payfac (payment facilitator) solution
Using a payfac solution is a great way for governments and councils to avoid setting up an individual merchant account with their bank. Essentially, the payfac solution will assume the responsibility and risks involved with processing payments.
This gives you a complete end-to-end council payment solution. That way you can be up and running and accepting payments in no time.
PCI compliant payment solutions
Consumers are more concerned about data breaches than ever. And government offices manage a lot of sensitive consumer data that needs to be protected. If you want to instil confidence in your services, you must choose a certified PCI Level 1 compliance payment provider.
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) provides certain steps that all merchants must follow to ensure that payment information is kept safe. This minimizes the risk of a data breach and protects both merchants and consumers.
How to Get Started With Bambora’s Government Payment Solutions
If you work for the federal or state government or a council, and are looking for ways to improve your government payment solutions, Bambora can help. We can help streamline your organisation with options like:
- Direct debit
- Digital wallets
- Custom checkouts
- Hosted payment pages
- And much more
About the author
Victoria Galloway is Bambora APAC's Technical Copywriter, and has been writing and producing in the payments and eCommerce space for a number of years, both in the UK and Australia.