Taking a holistic approach to payment services
Officials at Western Michigan University wanted to streamline payment services for their nearly 23,000 students, thousands of staffers, and active alumni network members.
It would require costly payment system upgrades or implementation of Point-To-Point Encryption or P2PE equipment.
“We realized that we did not have the expertise to determine which devices fit best, and we did not have the physical resources to implement them in each department in a timely manner,” says Jeffrey Long, director of accounting services at the Kalamazoo-based school.
‘Above and beyond’ customer service
At a conference, Long heard representatives from Arrow Payments discuss the unique challenges universities face with payment solutions in a decentralized environment. That was enough for Long to determine they offered a strong solution.
Arrow Payments uses a four-phase holistic approach to illuminate challenges and offer solutions: discovery, solution development, implementation and support.
At Western Michigan, the Arrow Payments team conducted surveys and visited every campus department with payment systems to identify challenges, security concerns and payment needs. Then, they held town hall meetings and discussed PCI compliance, solutions and hardware upgrades.
Arrow Payments team members created an efficient implementation phase for new equipment and improved processes, and continued weekly meetings either in person or via phone. Now, they provide ongoing support.
“Their customer service has been above and beyond in following up on issues, many of which I would not consider as part of their responsibilities,” says Long.
Achieving and maintaining PCI compliance
Arrow Payments representatives met with each department to recommend appropriate solutions and equipment to become PCI compliant. They gathered information from third-party software providers and reached out to vendors to obtain additional information. Once the appropriate solutions were determined, they ordered and installed the equipment.
“Staff have bought into ensuring that their departments are PCI compliant,” says Long.
Improved reporting and tracking
In addition to gaining efficiencies campuswide, Western Michigan saw processes improve due to upgraded equipment, which has resulted in an overall increase in customer satisfaction.
“Their customer service has been above and beyond in following up on issues, many of which I would not consider as part of their responsibilities.”
Lynda Hunt, associate director of foundation accounting and finance for University Advancement, says her department used to have three vendors processing credit card payments and payment devices that malfunctioned at donor events, which cost the school revenue.
“We were struggling to keep track of them all,” says Hunt. “We now have a single vendor, and reporting and tracking is a hundred times better. Also, we no longer have to contact donors and get their credit card numbers again, as the new system stores them for us, and everything is PCI compliant.”
Why are higher ed leaders hesitant to adopt newer payment technologies?
Most college campuses are like cities or towns. Every campus department has its own payment processes and software, and as a result, they all have their own needs. It is a complex situation. There is a tendency to stick with legacy systems that are connected to phone lines or segregated campus networks, but those are complicated and expensive. Newer payment technologies are available to save institutions time and money. Among them: Point-To-Point Encryption or P2PE, which makes it easier to accept more payments without being concerned about having credit card data on a network or the related PCI-compliance issues.
What do colleges gain by moving away from legacy systems?
They improve efficiency to process payments faster using fewer resources. Donation systems can use mobile devices to take payments from donors on campus or anywhere. By removing credit card data from networks, institutions do not have to spend time and money on PCI compliance or on protecting systems. In some cases, we have seen schools automate reconciliations. Ultimately, that results in reduced costs and resources that were previously required to manage all the disparate systems.
How can institutions achieve PCI compliance through these transitions?
We talk with schools that are not PCI compliant, and in some cases, they do not even realize that they are not in compliance. They may not be setting up the right systems to securely process payments. If they move to newer technologies, those requirements go away because there are P2PE solutions validated by the PCI Security Standards Council. That reduces the amount of money and resources necessary to achieve PCI compliance. Institutions can start to use their Wi-Fi networks and process payments in more locations without complicated, expensive systems.
How does Arrow Payments help schools adopt modern payment systems and deal with evolving technologies?
There is no single system that can address the full scope of payment needs across different campus departments and the software they use. We come in and assess existing systems from a security, efficiency and user satisfaction standpoint. We do not use any of our own technology. We figure out a range of options and put together strategies to implement and support those solutions. We even work with schools to train users, automate reconciliation and track PCI compliance. Simply put, we are outsourced payment technology experts helping clients reduce the operational costs and resource burdens of managing payment processing.
For more information, please visit arrowpayments.com/solutions
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