A strategic payments partner for the higher education sector

From collecting cross-border payments to the shift to cashless campuses, the higher education sector faces a number of payments challenges, including an increase in tuition fee fraud, making a consistent, strategic payments partner increasingly important. We take a closer look at how Lloyds Bank Cardnet is supporting one UK university.

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Read time: 4 mins      Added: 30/06/021

Lloyds Bank Cardnet has been working with the University of Exeter, part of the Russell Group of universities, for over 15 years, providing a range of services. These include payment processing via the MSIP and Omnipay platforms and Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) for international payments. But the relationship goes far beyond simply providing products and services.
 

Strategic support

Emma Price, Associate Director, Transaction Banking Solutions at Cardnet, works closely with the university, providing consultative support and helping to support the university’s overall business strategy.

“I'm always trying to find ways to help University of Exeter consolidate their existing payment process and simplify the payment journey for their students as well as ensuring they are aware of new innovations and maximising alternative payment methods, including Open Banking, in line with the higher education market and sector trends,” says Emma.

“We have quarterly business review meetings where we offer  a dedicated one-to-one service where we explore what they want their end-to-end student payment journey to look like and how best I can help them to achieve that. This means introducing them to new innovative solutions - including our omni channel gateway products - and services which can help improve the student journey and at the same time create operational efficiencies for the University of Exeter and help deliver their long-term payment strategy.

“But we’re also in touch more regularly to support the team through day-to-day operational challenges, help with fraud prevention, provide information on industry-wide updates and share key insights including 12-month performance trends, financial year comparisons and comparison of processing channels.”

“The engagement we get from Emma is really positive and innovative,” says the university’s Head of Finance Operations. “She's always available when we need her and she provides comprehensive data, both proactively and upon request. Being a HE sector specific Relationship Manager means she really understands the key requirements in the university and helps us take advantage of new solutions as well as keeping us informed of new insights and trends.”
 

Accelerating the move to a cashless campus

The university had already been planning the shift to a cashless campus due to an increase in student demand for mobile led remote payments and the operational and reconciliation benefits to the university, however, the process was accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic and students returned to a cashless campus in September 2020.

“Now that the initial shift to cashless has been made, we’re exploring ways to simplify payments further and make things easier for students,” says Emma. “We’re having conversations about digital wallets, accepting QR code payments and the benefits they could bring. Contactless reporting also enables the university to see how much overall traffic in a face-to-face environment is being done through contactless rather than using chip and pin.”

“I think it's incredibly important that we continually review our technology and our systems and look at anything that's upcoming, that we may want facilitate to provide that up-to-date service for our stakeholders, including streamlining the entire payment landscape by providing all services from acquiring, gateway services, cashless and DCC,” says the university’s Head of Finance Operations.

Making overseas payments easier

Another challenge Cardnet has been able to support the university with is making international payment acceptance simpler. With approximately 20% of the university’s 25,000+ students coming from outside the UK, payments are regularly made in multiple currencies.

Cardnet’s Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) helps minimise exchange rate issues by allowing international students to pay in their own currency at no extra cost to the university. The university’s finance team say this has reduced problems around overseas bank transfers, with students sometimes under- or over-paying in the past due to exchange rate fluctuations while payments were being processed. This is no longer the case, cutting down on the admin time taken to resolve issues and offering reassurance to overseas students. 

We strategically work with the university to maximise DCC conversions with an average 42% conversion.

Providing support through the pandemic

Strategic relationship management is a key part of the Cardnet offering and throughout the course of the pandemic we’ve adapted ways of working and utilised technology to ensure we’ve been able to seamlessly continue providing the university with both payment and market expertise and operational support. 

“We have a very close working relationship with the university and look forward to continuing to work with the team to define and implement their payments strategy and adapt to the evolving challenges facing the higher education sector,” says Emma.

The support we’ve been able to offer through this period was fully illustrated in a recent opinion poll run by WPM where Cardnet ranked first out of all acquirers and gateway providers in the UK for our proactive approach through the pandemic.

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