We spoke with the General Manager of School EasyPay, Kevin Butler, about how his payment platform meets the needs of schools, and what this new integration means for EdSmart customers.
EdSmart: You must have seen a lot change in payments across the last decade...
Kevin Butler: "The payment space is now very innovative – it's exciting, it's cool – and there are so many different ways to pay."
"Coming from a school's point of view, payments was always something they didn't really put a lot of ongoing thought into. But, if you think about it, it's a critical issue for schools to address. Usually, whatever a school has had in place for even 40 to 50 years, they never really look at it again. They just leave it alone but there are ways of working better and more efficiently."
"We encourage schools to improve payments in ways they haven't previously even thought of, and the differences are phenomenal – from a cashflow point of view, from an efficiency point of view, from a cost point of view, and time and effort... all those things. We make life easier for the schools and the parents. That's essentially, in a nutshell, what School EasyPay does."
How do you specifically serve the needs of schools when it comes to payments?
"Well, given children are at a school for multiple years – six years or even more – we help schools automate recurring payments, rather than sending out a bill every month, or every term, and treating the parent or guardian like a brand new customer every time. We look at ways of automating and improving payment processes for tuition, building funds, excursions and more, which benefits the school and the parents."
And how does School EasyPay integrate with EdSmart?
"We consider ourselves to be the missing link in the EdSmart process. Even though the permissions, forms and compilation of everything has been automated through EdSmart, many schools are still completing the payments piece of the puzzle manually and offline."
"As a parent, I want to send my child on this excursion and fill out everything in EdSmart, which means also making the payment as part of that process. Having School EasyPay integrated with EdSmart means the parent can do both – the permission and payment at the one time. It's much easier than filling out the form and then trying to find $22.50 to put it in an envelope and send it back to the school with your child, not to mention the admin for the school in reconciling that payment."
Can you explain the process for parents?
"Essentially, you fill out the EdSmart form, as per normal – there's no change with that – but, if the school has switched on School EasyPay, once the parent provides the permission, the last EdSmart step will include the option for the parent to pay online by card. So they securely enter in the credit or debit card and then they get immediate payment confirmation online. That's it. They can do everything in the one go."
"Basically, there's no separate process, no separate payments, no separate giving children money to take the school or no need to separately log into your online bank accounts to transfer the money. From the school's point of view, it's the same. They get the permission and payment all at once and the visibility of that payment in EdSmart, rather than logging into the bank and seeing that permissions have been granted for an excursion but 80% of the parents haven't paid yet. That means the school doesn't have to do any chasing up of payments. School EasyPay deposits the payments into the school's nominated bank account."
Security is a very important factor when it comes to payments – so what steps have you taken to ensure security?
"We have received the highest industry standard for card security compliance – PCI DSS Level 1 – so you can't get any better than that."
"We rebuilt our platform a number of years ago so it is PCI compliant from the ground up. We achieved that level one compliance because of the secure way we process payments. So what that means is the card number is security tokenised during the payment. Once it is entered, the full card number is not available to either the school, the parent or us from that point moving forward – that's what being tokenised means."
Do you have any tips to give EdSmart schools?
"Embrace this new integration and the benefits to your school and parents. Decide whether you're going to absorb the card processing fee, or pass it onto parents, right off the bat. The majority of schools do pass that onto the parent but it's completely up to the school. If you pass on the fee to the parents, there's absolutely no cost to the school for using School EasyPay.
"Do an audit of all the payment transactions that can be made to the school – from the building funds to tuition to excursions. Look for other opportunities to make our payment systems work best for you. Talk to experts in the field of payments – whether that's EdSmart or us – and ask 'How do I make my payments more efficient?' Don't be afraid to challenge convention or look beyond the standard services provided by banks."
Why do you think EdSmart and School EasyPay work so well together?
"Reducing paperwork and reducing admin leads to a process that's smarter and easier. That's EdSmart and that's the exact same ethos for School EasyPay. We talk to schools about seamless integration, reducing admin, reducing paperwork, increasing efficiency and just doing things in a smarter and an easier way. I think that's why our two technologies fit so well together."