Digital Payments

Graduating To Faster Payments

Graduating To Faster Payments

Grade schools and colleges could use a massive textbook dedicated to payments – their own. Any parent of school-age kids has experienced some type of payments challenge, whether it’s the cafeteria account running low on funds and the clunky interface on the school website, or the surprise field trip fee that sends them scrambling for a checkbook at zero dark thirty.

Many schools get an F when it comes to payments, but the culprit might actually be the infernal “paper jam.” Educational institutions are stuck on the same “check’s in the mail” cycle as most of the business world. It seems extra crazy for the education market, considering that the people taking out and paying off college loans today don’t rely much on checks and don’t see paper in their future – in fact, they don’t even see it in their present. According to a study by Aite Group, most student loan tuition payments are made via electronic check (ACH), followed by debit cards, which are favored by millennials and Gen Yers everywhere.

The writing is on the whiteboard: School’s out for paper payments.

Tuition Goes to Grad School

In Q3 2019, credit card issuer JCB International Co., Ltd. (JCBI) and global payments platform Flywire unveiled a partnership that allowed students in JCBI’s Southeast Asia markets to easily make cross-border tuition payments. At the time of the announcement, Flywire Global Payments VP Ryan Frere said, “…we are activating a very popular payment method in many of the world’s largest and fastest-growing markets for international students.” It is partly the influx of international students to U.S. schools that is pushing higher education facilities to embrace new capabilities, such as platforms that can reconcile in various currencies.

It doesn’t take a bachelor’s in finance to comprehend that trillions of dollars in tuition crisscrosses the globe daily, and better ways to manage it are popping up left and right. In one major move, tuition payments platform Bursari has integrated the Digital Payments SDK bundle from financial services technology firm Fiserv, as the former looks to “take payments to school,” according to their tagline.

Fiserv’s Digital Payments SDK is ideal for Bursari, with a suite of customizable APIs, eChecking and “bank-grade risk and fraud capabilities for money movement.” The company calls SDK “…a low-cost alternative payment method to reduce churn and costs associated with credit card payments, or to offer a payment option to prospective customers who don't have, or prefer not to pay with, credit cards.”

Sounds like they’re describing college students – and, of course, they are. The previously cited Aite Group study found that 42 percent of millennials pay tuition with a card (most likely a debit card), and only 5 percent pay by check.

Getting to Class On Time

The excitement around real-time payments (RTP) in the education space revolves around peace of mind for families, with greater efficiency and even profitability for institutions. Paper checks are a costly time-suck, and the entire world is over it (except, presumably, check printers and the USPS).

As “instant” educates the educated, families will have less to worry about when the kids go off to college (“did the tuition check clear yet?”). Also, and more importantly, real-time financial aid disbursements to students will remove much anxiety from the process. That comes in handy not just for tuition, but also for purchases on campus and elsewhere along the higher education journey.

With college tuition projected to show a combined annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12 percent over the next three years, faster payments may have taken their time – but they’ve arrived just in time.

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