Tuesday, September 14, 2010

4 Reasons Government Entities may adopt Integrated Payments Hubs

Posted by Mark Brousseau

If you think your operations budgets are tight, try managing payments processing for a government entity. Badly stung by declining tax revenues, most state, county and municipal governments have squeezed their operations budgets dry. And it couldn't have come at a worse time for government operations managers: like their counterparts in the private sector, governments are struggling with how best to adapt their operations to declining check volumes and emerging payments channels.

Leilani Doyle (ldoyle@usdataworks.com), product manager at Houston-based US Dataworks (www.usdataworks.com), believes government entities may find a solution in so-called enterprise payments hubs (or integrated payments hubs), which consolidate paper-based and electronic payments into a single platform, in turn, streamlining processing and eliminating operations silos.

About one-quarter (22.2 percent) of all government entities that responded to a recent IAPP-TAWPI survey indicated that they have implemented an enterprise payments hub to consolidate paper and electronic payments. The responses from state revenue agencies nearly mirror the overall findings for this question, with 21.4 percent indicating that they have implemented an enterprise payments hub. Non-revenue state agencies and county government entities have made a little more progress in this area, with 33 percent of (non-revenue) state agencies indicating that they have implemented an enterprise payments hub, and 40 percent of county government entities (by far the highest adoption rate among the groups tracked) stating that they have implemented an enterprise payments hub.

Doyle says 4 factors could drive faster growth of enterprise payments hubs among governments:

1. Declining paper volumes. As government agencies achieve success with electronic payments, their existing paper-centric infrastructure becomes obsolete. "Paper will not go away any time soon, but there's no need to maintain equipment and applications designed to manage large volumes of paper payments," Doyle explains. "Moving forward, government entities will need an integrated payments platform that can scale up or down as needed. This type of payments processing platform operates like a utility that can be easily adjusted to changing payment types and volumes."

2. Focus on serving constituents. Implementing an integrated payments hub enables government entities to provide better service to their constituents, Doyle explains. Research can be performed from a single location. Posting is more accurate. And check images can be retrieved instantly.

3. Push to reduce bank fees and operations costs. With an integrated payments hub, government entities can consolidate their bank deposit files, putting them in a stronger position for negotiating bank fees. Inside government operations, an integrated payments hub helps government entities increase overall staff productivity by not requiring them to learn different applications for processing each payment type. Similarly, reports for staffing and efficiency can be produced from a single system, streamlining the generation of Key Performance Indicators each agency must produce.

4. Lower capital expenditures and ongoing costs. With the emergence of enterprise payments solutions that offer a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or hosted delivery model, government agencies can replace their aging systems with little to no upfront cost. This is a creative way to allow agencies without the budgeted dollars to replace antiquated legacy systems, Doyle says. "SaaS services also provide an added layer of security and compliance protection, starting with PCI compliance and SAS-70. This can significantly reduce risks and audit costs for government agencies." What’s more, leveraging a SaaS or hosted delivery model means government entities can offload the management of their IT infrastructure. This not only saves money, but also allows government entities to better focus on their core competency -- serving taxpayers. And this may be the biggest benefit of all.

It's for these reasons that Doyle thinks government entities may adopt integrated payments hubs.

What do you think?

No comments: