No small change

New payment system developed for Scottish schools takes the hassle out of lunch money

“Every parent or carer – irrespective of where they live in Scotland – will soon be able to go online and pay for their child’s school meal, school trip and other non-meal purchases,” says Sarah Phillips, Managing Director of WisePay – recently accepted on the Online School Payments Framework devised by Scotland Excel, a collaborative procurement organisation acting on behalf of all 32 Scottish local authorities.

No longer will parents and carers of the 682,000 pupils attending Scotland’s 3,000 schools scramble around every morning gathering their loose change to make up the lunch money for the 54.6 million school meals that are served every year, or hunt for the cheque book to pay the next installment due for their youngster’s school trip.

Neither will schools and councils be faced with the significant administrative burden of handling, processing and banking over £120 million of relatively small cash transactions every year.

The new online schools payments service will also offer schools and local authorities a much welcomed opportunity to reduce transaction processing costs by a significant margin. Service provider costs for processing cash and cheque transactions (4.5 per cent) are around three times the cost of processing online transactions (1.5 per cent) so even if just 20 per cent of the total annual payments for school meals and other non-meal purchases were made online rather than by cash, annual savings of around £750,000 could potentially be made – rising to over £2 million over three years.

Councils can opt to use their acquiring banks and payment gateways or use WisePay’s banks and gateways. “This enables WisePay to provide a competitively priced one-stop, end-to-end service which is incredibly flexible,” says Sarah.

The new framework was developed by Scotland Excel to help councils meet the vision of the Scottish Government’s Digital Future Strategy, ‘to ensure Scotland, its communities and its people are well placed to take full advantage of all the economic, social and environmental opportunities the digital age can offer’.

WisePay is also providing Scottish schools with optional expenditure management services in addition to its payment and booking services. All services are integrated so schools are able to manage not only the payments from their parents and carers but also the expenditure of say a coach driver or cost of entrance tickets – all in a single cost centre for that trip, all on a single platform.

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