How Local Governments Can Improve Payment Efficiency for Constituents and Treasury Departments

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In today’s world, local governments are busy. They’re managing updates from the state, new constituent expectations, and likely wearing more than one hat with multiple job responsibilities falling on the same team. Finance teams within each local government are often processing payments for taxes, corrections, and the DMV.

And the payment options for constituents? They’re outdated.

Those same payment options that constituents are forced to use—walk-in and pay in person, mail in a check and wait for it to process manually, paper invoices, etc.—slow down treasury departments, waste resources, and create more work for everyone involved—both internally and externally.

It’s time to improve payment efficiency for everyone involved. Let’s move away from siloed payment methods, disconnected systems, and payment options that should have been left behind years ago.

If you’re ready to improve your payment efficiency for constituents and treasury departments, check out these best practices and tips:

Build a forward-thinking payment experience for government

Six out of 10 finance teams still rely on manual reconciliation. And that’s a huge time suck. Those teams are spending 30% of their time on manual reconciliation, likely working with siloed payment processes and platforms. Manual reconciliation wastes time and precious local government resources and often points to a messy external experience for constituents. Outdated payment options keep local governments stuck in the past, rather than keeping up with other industries and other experiences that constituents have grown used to in their day-to-day interactions.

  • Offer contactless payments to your constituents
    More than 60% of consumers say they prefer contactless payments, and in their day-to-day purchases, they will switch to a new business that offers contactless payments. Contactless payment options, made popular during the pandemic, are here to stay and they’ll likely drive future payment innovations.
  • Offer tap-and-go or mobile payments to your constituents
    Local governments aren’t competing with local businesses, but they should be providing a similar consumer experience. Seventy percent of businesses believe that consumers want tap-and-go or mobile payment options. These offerings are forward thinking and consumer-centered.
  • Offer automatic payment options to your constituents
    More than 40% of U.S. households pay their recurring bills automatically. Automatic payments allow consumers to not only make a digital payment (contactless and convenient), they allow consumers to pick which payment method they prefer to use—credit card, eCheck, etc. Allow your constituents to make their payments automatically and be sure to allow all major credit cards as payment options.

Expand your payment options externally

Outdated, manual, and slow payment options don’t add any efficiency for your constituents or your treasury department. And they aren’t keeping up with modern-day expectations for payments. Only 5% of consumers say they prefer to make payments through the mail today. The flip-side? More than 80% of consumers say they want to make payments digitally on their phones or another platform online. It’s time to grow your payment option list and step into the future.

Here are a few options to consider as you expand your payment options for your constituents:

  • Offer your constituents an app to make payments
    One out of every five consumers say they want to use an app to make payments. Stay in line with constituent expectations by offering an app to make local government payments.
  • Offer your constituents a mobile pay option
    For consumers that use mobile banking, more than 60% use mobile billpay as well. Mobile pay options can look like mobile bill pay, text-to-pay, or even a mobile-friendly website that accepts all major credit cards and other payment platforms.
  • Offer an easy-to-navigate payment experience on your website
    Digital payments don’t have to be mobile or contactless in-person. Expanding your payment options can be as simple as ensuring your website is easy to use and offers all major payment methods. Nearly 40% of all online shoppers (i.e., your constituents) say they prefer using an eWallet when they checkout. And more than 20% say they want to use a credit card vs. only 12% that want to use a debit card. Make sure your website is easy to navigate and offers plenty of payment options.

BONUS: Consolidate your payment platforms internally

As you expand your payment offerings to your constituents, consider consolidating your processing platforms internally. For many local governments, systems are outdated and hard to use. They reduce the efficiency of your team, creating more work for reconciliation, customer-service questions, and even maintenance. Plus, outdated systems are ripe for cyber security breaches—nearly 40% of which can be traced back to human error.

BONUS: It’s time to consolidate payments internally

  • Consolidation data (trends and data that says consolidation is necessary)
  • Internal processing needs to be better
  • Single source of truth for all payments – reconciliation is faster

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