Online payment options are becoming increasingly popular among local governments; they bring in additional revenue and encourage more constituents to take advantage of government services. Many cities already offer online payment options for things like permits, taxes, tickets, and other fees.
If your city doesn’t currently offer online payment options, or if some of your government’s services still require manual payment, now is the time to get on board. Online payments can cut administrative costs and help ensure that you’re paid promptly and in full.
What should you consider when bringing payments online?
#1. Avoid excessive merchant and transaction fees.
Online payments are a great way to reduce the administrative costs associated with collecting and processing cash and paper checks. However, when you’re seeking out online payment options, you should be wary of excessive merchant and transaction fees. If paying online means paying significantly extra in fees, then citizens aren’t as likely to take advantage of online payment options, and potential savings are reduced.
As a rule, constituents who use online payment capabilities should cover any associated fees. Keep in mind, however, that transaction costs can range from a dollar or two at the low end of the spectrum to a significant percentage of the payment total.
If merchant and transaction costs get too high, then governments feel obligated take on more of the burden, or else the online payment systems will go underutilized. This can quickly lead to a bill of hundreds or thousands of dollars at the end of the month.
#2. Think about the whole process, not just the payment collection.
Payment is just one part of the business process. Make sure that as you go digital, you are considering the full transaction: the accompanying form or application. Digitizing the entire business process allows you to collect and manage your data more efficiently.
Configure your online payment solution so that it can seamlessly integrate with any form that needs payment. This will allow you to consolidate all the information related to the business process in one centralized location.
#3. Automate, automate, automate.
One of the more cumbersome aspects of old payment systems is the inability to process calculations easily. Your residents shouldn’t have to perform calculations in order to make a payment. Opt for a smart payment solution that can generate the total using data from a form.
In this day and age, requesting a record or applying for a permit should be as easy as placing an order through your average private-sector ecommerce site. Thankfully, the tools are available to make this standard a reality without breaking the bank. By providing comprehensive digital services, governments can create an experience for their residents that’s simple and beautiful.
Jonathon Ende is part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here.