According to Ofcom, over 60 per cent of mobiles owned in the UK today are smartphones. With the endless payment methods available to us, it’s inevitable that this has led to a change in the way we choose to pay for things; many of us leave the house without any cash at all, using contactless cards to make those small day-to-day transactions or simply making a payment via text or through an app.
As all parents know, paying for school trips, dinner money and other related costs can be somewhat stressful, especially when parents don’t always have cash to hand. It is also never guaranteed that school letters will arrive at their final destination; schoolbags have a peculiar way of depositing important school letters at the bottom of the bag. Ensuring payments are received by the school is perilous, as cash may not be handed in to the school’s finance office on time, or even make it to the finance office at all. There’s no doubt that the majority of parents would rather deal with the school directly, avoiding the risk and worry of their child having to travel to school with sometimes large sums of money.
With this increasing use of digital technology allowing us to make payments wherever we are, schools need to adapt to this trend and provide parents with various options when it comes to paying for school items.
According to a survey we ran at ParentMail, over 90 per cent of parents said that they would prefer to pay for school items online. This highlights the requirement for schools to align processes with the needs of parents, in order to make the payment process less of a chore, as well as making it easier to manage for bursars.
Schools should consider implementing a digital process for transactions, to make it simpler to track balances and payments, allow parents to automatically top-up catering accounts and even manage alerts in order to minimise school debt. Having an app will streamline processes and allow schools to manage and collect payments from parents.
Schools will be able to quickly and effectively inform parents by email and/or text about items they need to pay for, minimising the chance of paper-based messages getting lost in transit. Parents can then pay on their mobile or computer and money is transferred directly into the school bank account – it’s all very easy and secure.
However, while cashless systems can help improve school administration as well as the communication and financial aspects, it is important not to isolate those families that may not have a bank account, or access to online banking methods.
Employing a system for which cash, cheque and voucher payments can still be recorded is important, as although the majority of parents are using technology more often than not, not all of them rely on it so heavily. It’s vital that online payment systems are as inclusive as possible which is why schools should look for one that encompasses multiple payment options for parents.
Cashless transaction apps make financial liaison between the parent and school very simple. We know technology and cashless systems are continually evolving, which will present new opportunities for schools. Companies such as ourselves strive to stay ahead of the trend, to ensure that schools are able to maximise efficiency when it comes to cashless payments and administration, so that schools and parents can work together and focus on what is most important: the children themselves.