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Why Citizen-Centric Municipalities Are Making the Shift to Remote Payments

October 9, 2020

Local governments and municipalities have historically been dependent on in-person payments for water bills, sewer bills, property tax bills, etc. This made sense for many years—why disrupt processes that are (mostly) working? And for in-person payments, most municipalities have a local presence that was easy for citizens to pay with cash, money orders or swiped cards. 

However, modern expectations are shifting, and citizens want municipal bill payment experiences to match new standards of convenience and speed. In-person payments come with long waits, limited hours, and in recent times, social distancing issues. These situations inconvenience citizens and necessitate safer payment options. 

Remote payments deliver fast, convenient, and more secure payment solutions. With over 51% of Americans already using contactless payments, municipalities should incorporate these payment solutions into their systems. 

Why Invest in Remote Payments?

Generally, remote and contactless payments give citizens a modern and reliable way to pay their bills. Local governments and municipalities also benefit by digitizing processes and allowing staff to spend more time working with citizens instead of processing in-person payments. 

Remote Payments are Convenient

Today, consumers demand speedy and convenient services, especially the younger generations — Generation Z and Millennials. They expect to send bill payments as fast as they can text a friend.

When you provide remote payments, citizens can pay bills in near real-time. You can send a bill via text message, email or push notification, and within a few clicks or taps, the citizen can complete the payment. Additionally, it reduces the time municipality employees spend operating card machines and counting cash, enhancing productivity.

Remote Payments are Secure

Remote payments offer safeguards to protect your citizens’ sensitive information. For example, push to text or IVR systems allow payments to be made online, avoiding the PCI risks associated with payments made over the phone. All online payments are tokenized so that card data remains secure throughout the transaction, and digital wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay take this security to another level with biometric authentication and additional tokenization.

Remote Payments are Citizen-Centric

To build trust with citizens, government agencies need to prioritize citizens’ convenience by offering contactless payments for their services. Citizens are used to modern, simple payment solutions in all other areas of their lives – why not offer these same experiences for paying water or tax bills?

Five Options for Municipalities

Here are some ways municipalities can use remote payments when billing citizens for utilities and government services.

1. Accept Cash Offsite with PayNearMe

Instead of collecting cash in-person, municipalities can use PayNearMe for collecting cash at thousands of participating local retail locations, including 7-Eleven and CVS stores. The PayNearMe platform is secure and available 24/7. Your office will no longer have to handle, process, and transfer cash to the bank, instead “outsourcing” those services to experienced retailers who have mastered cash acceptance. 

This option still allows un- and underbanked residents to pay their bills with cash without having to wait in line or visit the municipal offices during specific work hours. 

2. Embrace Card-Not-Present Transactions 

A card-not-present payment occurs when the payment card is not physically present at the time of transaction. The user makes payments by manually entering the details of their card via the phone or the internet. This allows you to accept a variety of card payments without having to swipe the cards in-person. 

You can make it even easier by including a QR code on your billing statements that citizens can scan to pay bills in seconds. Scanning the code will bring up a digital bill pay screen, allowing you to convert traditionally offline citizens into online bill payers. 

3. Streamline the ACH Process

For citizens who like to pay bills directly from their bank accounts, ACH offers the most ease and convenience. It also allows you to easily collect recurring, or automatic, bill payments from citizens with ease.

ACH transactions can often be much more affordable than card payments, giving you and your citizens a low fee, low friction payment method. 

PayNearMe makes ACH payments even easier by intuitively showing citizens how online ACH payments correlate to check payments by showing a real-time check image as they fill out a payment form. These can then easily be turned into recurring bill payments, allowing your citizens to set it once and never worry about making another payment. 

4. Mobile Payments

With over 81% of Americans owning a smartphone and 70% of millennials using their phones to pay for services, municipalities need to adopt mobile bill payments, especially with the rise of Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Through digital wallets, users can organize, view and pay their bills from their devices. These wallets also store payment and billing info, helping citizens keep track of their finances without downloading separate apps.

What’s more, digital wallets are more secure than traditional wallets. They use data encryption, authentication, and monitoring to secure users’ personal information. 

5. IVR Payments

IVR (Interactive Voice Response) payment allows citizens to pay bills and fees over the telephone via an automated system. When the municipality integrates an IVR payment system, the public can pay their bills without speaking to your agents.

This process doesn’t require any internet connectivity. Additionally, IVR payment systems are PCI compliant and will protect your customer’s card details.

Provide Easy, Fast, and Secure Payments to Citizens

The benefits of contactless payments for municipality services are clear. Since they’re adaptable to new technologies, these systems give citizens seamless experiences when paying for utilities and services.

With over half of Americans using contactless payments, municipalities must adopt these fast and convenient innovative payment solutions. PayNearMe’s payment solutions combine advanced technology with innovative features for quick and stress-free customer experiences. 

Get in touch to learn more about what our flexible payment platform can do for your municipality.