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Parenting & Education in Ireland

Choosing a new School Payment System

Schools receive and send money daily: from receiving departmental grants to voluntary contributions from parents, to paying suppliers and non-teaching staff. Traditionally, cash and cheque payments were the norm for parents to pay for voluntary contributions including payments for books, uniforms, school-trips. However, a recent survey has revealed that teachers, parents and school staff are finding cash and cheque payments inefficient and complicated as means of receiving money.

Schools are now researching electronic means to receive and send all payments and want a dedicated system in place that reduces valuable administration time for them, but is also beneficial and practical for parents and suppliers. For schools who are looking for a new electronic service there are some important points to consider first before choosing a School Payment System. Electronic banking is now the norm among individuals and businesses across Ireland with many payment systems in place for business. Before you choose yours, ask these important questions:

Which payments will be processed using the electronic payment system? What are the Costs?

Parents can potentially pay for school books, catering, field-trips, uniforms, camps, fundraising and voluntary contributions. Decide which services your school will want to receive payments for through the electronic system. Before deciding on a payment system, all start-up and annual costs should be considered. Assessment of costs should include training, software licenses, support and integration. Will your provider be financially viable long term? Factor in all these considerations before you decide.

When will the money come through, and to where will it be allocated.

Before deciding a payment provider, find out how frequently your account will be credited. Is it immediate, every few days or once a week? Make sure this suits your school’s cash flow requirements. Online payment providers may also only allocate money to one account. If your school has multiple accounts, check if your provider can make payment to multiple accounts. Most payment providers have online transaction fees. Decide who will pay this charge, your school or your parents?

WIll a new payment system integrate with your existing systems

If you have other systems in place for paying suppliers, make sure that a new system will integrate with the current one. Some systems may not integrate with other systems and this may result in increased work for your financial staff. If you need to integrate systems, decide on a payment provider that can integrate functionality fully.

What kind of support and services do your payment provider offer

Make sure your provider provides training and has telephone, email and on-site support available. Check the details of your contract when considering each provider. Some payment providers offer text and email communication to parents to confirm payments. Other services include providing reports and bank and reconciliation. Decide which extra requirements you need before deciding on a provider.

Are payments secure? Is it PCI (payment card industry) compliant?

PCI compliance means that client and service providers’ payments are protected from fraud. This is an essential component when seeking any payment provider.