Buyer’s guide: Payments processed

Nicola Yeeles looks at five efficiency-enhancing tech products designed to help you and your students stay on top of payments for everything from accommodation to avocado on toast

As thoughts turn to the UK’s economic response to Covid-19, organisational finances will be under ever greater scrutiny. Universities simply cannot afford to wait for income – whether it’s for a student to pay their accommodation deposit or library fine, or a company to pay for consultancy services. Payment processing technology helps in two ways: firstly, making it quick and easy for those that need to pay to do so, encouraging swift payment. Getting those funds back into university coffers is vital. And secondly, if payments can be made more efficient, then finance staff can be redeployed to front line services, saving valuable people hours.

But with cybersecurity top of the agenda, many universities are seeking to outsource their payments to companies who can guarantee them. The trend is for efficient apps that help you manage income and expenditure without the friction of paper or manual processes. It’s an area where technology can really make a difference.

In these uncertain times, we look at how five new and established pieces of software can help you stay on top of payments, providing you with greater transparency and enabling you to minimise person-to-person contact.

Name of software: Pelican Pi

How it helps universities: Pi is an award-winning, cloud-based system offering a suite of purpose-built modules designed to empower finance, procurement and catering teams to work smarter and more efficiently.

Pi works by receiving invoice data directly from suppliers. Invoices are automatically assigned to one simple e-statement that details all the invoices relating to a specific cost centre or site which are due for payment. Clients are notified, once the statement is finalised, to check the invoices due for payment, and/or hold back any invoices from payment that may be in dispute. Payment is then taken via a single direct debit; suppliers are in turn paid automatically via BACS. The system enables clients to reconcile invoices online, automatically apply nominal codes to invoices and check invoices against contract price.

The system increases productivity and efficiency as it provides full visibility, control and a consistent picture of universities’ catering operation and its impact on finances, at any time, without any manual input.

Payment model: There is no upfront or ongoing fee. A small percentage of savings generated from the professional tendering service covers the use of the procurement services and systems.

Release date: 2013

Name of software: Upay

How it helps universities: Upay is aimed at universities and their catering teams to help to engage with students and staff and keep them purchasing from the outlets on campus.

With promotions, loyalty and the ability to order ahead, the thinking is that students feel more inclined to spend onsite when they are being incentivised and when it’s convenient to them.

The Upay app is available to download via the App Store, Google Play or can be accessed via their website.

Payment model: Annual subscription.

Release date: 2009


Name of software: Fingopay

How it helps universities: Fingopay is the first identity authentication and payment solution powered by Hitachi’s VeinID technology. It offers fast, safe and secure transactions using just your finger. Fingopay can help universities encourage a cashless and plastic-free culture as there is no need to carry ID, cash, cards or smartphones for age-verification, identification or payment purposes, or to take advantage of access and loyalty schemes. You simply create a Fingopay account, add a payment card, and then link your finger to your account. You can then pay using just your finger.

Fingopay was founded from the desire to create a cashless experience for businesses and consumers. After proving successful at Brunel University and Copenhagen Business School, Fingopay will launch in venues across Manchester this spring.

The creators say that integrating Fingopay makes businesses more efficient, intelligent and secure, and offers a more convenient and worthwhile experience for customers.

Payment model: It is free to sign up to Fingopay.

Release date: Fingopay is launching in venues across Manchester, UK, this spring, and will expand globally throughout 2020/21.

Name of software: Payment Platform

How it helps universities: The platform enables universities and colleges to collect and process payments through a secure online system. It integrates with over 130 third-party and university systems, allowing you to standardise payment processes for payers and staff. The platform has automated reconciliation information and fulfilment back to the original systems – all of which saves valuable staff time chasing paper invoices.

Release date: Developed over the last 20 years.

Name of software: Flywire Education Payments

How it helps universities: In a culture where students may be paying their university from around the world, Flywire aims to simplify the way that universities receive and reconcile payments from them. It offers convenient payment methods and flexible payment plans. This is all explained to students in their home language, and money can be transferred across borders as Flywire can securely process payments in over 150 currencies from more than 240 countries and territories. What’s more, the system protects students from changes in exchange rates by securing wholesale rates. Once the student has booked a payment, Flywire, or a local licensed partner, receives their payment and processes the exchange before sending the payment as part of a batch to the institution.

Name of software: Pay360 by Capita

How it helps universities: Pay360 comprises a number of payment services all together in one place. Whether new to card payments or a large university already using them, Capita’s modular solutions are easily tailored to suit your business needs. Through this modular solution, you can accept card payments on your website.

You can also scale up additional services like adding internet merchant accounts so that students and staff can do more in one place.

Payment model: Starting from only £19 per month with flexible pricing plans.

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