While customer demand calls for more payment choices and faster processing, Higher Education Institutions (HEI) are emotionally locked in to outdated legacy platforms. Failure to move with the times and offer digital and mobile payments leaves HEIs ill-prepared to deal with the demands of today’s students and customers.
So, with so much tech innovation in the payment space, what’s holding universities and colleges back from asking for more from their PSPs? Joanne Gray, Senior Sales Manager and Ben Harris, Business Development Representative at Checkout.com explain.
For many institutions, there has been little investigation into the payments systems that are being used. The admin office has usually inherited these systems from those that came before them—going back years.
“From our conversations with HEIs across the UK, it’s clear that many have been using the same PSP for years, even decades”, according to Joanne Gray Senior Sales Manager at Checkout.com. “In many cases, they also bank with them, so payment services are simply bundled in. Requests for transformation may be met with resistance, and in the end, HEIs think it will be too much effort to change. Meanwhile, the world around them is changing fast.”
She adds, “Students and stakeholders have different expectations now than even 5 years ago. And the market is different, too, with HEIs driving new revenue opportunities from distance courses, facilities and research resources. This results in a much higher volume of lower-value income sources and transactions. To facilitate these, HEI admin offices need to offer more ways to pay than just basic bank transfers.”
So why is there so little progress? Checkout.com’s Ben Harris puts it down to poor awareness, “Lots of HEIs don’t realize that their thinking is stuck in the past. Through no fault of their own, they’re simply unaware of the fintech revolution that is reshaping payments in other segments.”
He also believes that this is down to how they are structured, “You have to look long and hard to find a dedicated payment team in an HEI. Instead, ownership is spread among finance, accounts payable, income teams or IT. Pulled in multiple directions, they’re too busy getting on with their jobs. With no one focused on driving more efficient payments, they remain stuck in the legacy trap.”
So, what can Checkout.com offer HEIs compared to traditional PSPs in this space?
Legacy providers can be slow to respond to both the customer and the market. Adding or changing options can take months. Having an agile payment platform that can accommodate change fast lets HEIs keep pace with what stakeholders want. This includes new ways to pay for domestic and overseas students, whether it’s adding Google or Apple Pay to student options or allowing accommodation to be paid using credit cards or even buy now, pay later (BNPL).
Smooth and seamless payments are important for students. No one wants the hassle of having their transaction declined. For merchants, knowing why a payment has failed to be able to take remedial action quickly is vital. And you can’t do that without data. Checkout.com has 150 quick response codes that can be sent to merchants to show why the payment was declined. This makes it much easier to fix problems and leads to much higher authorization rates.
Often HEI admin functions struggle to accept anything other than bank transfers. For lower value, high volume transactions, it makes sense to offer debit card payments. These are often more convenient for students, parents and businesses - and just as fast when it comes to settlement.
Powering HEI payments often involves multiple players in the payment process, including a merchant acquirer and gateway provider. Checkout.com is a full-service provider—so you only have to deal with one business to achieve an end-to-end digital checkout solution.
Reconciliation can be a sticking point for legacy providers. It’s much simpler with Checkout.com. Our back-end reporting is more granular, and HEIs can slice, dice and interrogate data in ways that give them the best insight.
HEIs, along with all businesses in the digital economy, feel the impact of compliance and security, including PSD2. Being a next-gen payment provider, Checkout.com is always up to date with the latest developments and ensures that updates happen instantly.
There’s a myth that switching to a new PSP will be difficult and time-consuming. With Checkout.com, it’s not the case. Our agile support team and tech experts liaise directly with our customers’ IT and operational teams and hold their hand every step of the way. Remember, this is not about replacing like with like—it’s about replacing old, complex and slow with new, simple and agile.
Some PSPs only operate within the HEI niche. At Checkout.com, we can service the entire university and college ecosystem, including accommodation providers, catering companies, and leisure organizations. At the same time, we provide a wide range of payment options, from digital wallets for small on-campus payments to direct debit and foreign wire payments for accommodation and fees.
Jo concludes, “At the end of the day, it’s all about future-proofing the Higher-Ed payment journey. Change can’t be avoided, and it’s now happening faster than ever. Partnering with a next-gen PSP can help you take it in your stride.
“Our approach is very consultative, from a dedicated contact to constant reviews that proactively identify improvement areas. Our goal is not just to keep your payments working but to keep them optimized too—so they’re more convenient, efficient and cost-effective for you, your students and stakeholders. No more old-fashioned lock-in—just win, win.”
Discover more ways Checkout.com can help optimize institutional payments.