Ursinus College: The Future of Campus Commerce is in the Cloud
Sixty-eight percent of schools are moving eCommerce to the cloudi. As Ellucian Live begins to descend upon San Diego this week, ACI’s Gene Scriven took a moment to chat with Ellen Curcio, Director of Student Accounts at Ursinus College, about the future of campus commerce.
Be sure to catch Ellen and Gene, as well as ACI partner and host Ellucian at the event on Wednesday, April 11, for a panel discussion on “The Future of eCommerce in the Cloud.”
Gene Scriven: I’m looking forward to our discussion at Ellucian Live later this week. What are you hoping to highlight during the conversation as it relates to Ursinus College?
Ellen Curcio: I’m the end user so I have a different perspective than an IT person would on this topic. In my opinion, moving to the cloud is a faster, more secure, and user-friendly way to make the payment process much better for students and families. Of course, from a business standpoint, we’ve lowered our costs, improved the speed with which we can offer new payments services, and we’re now able to catch up to student demand for easy ways to pay. Because we are a smaller college with a smaller staff, we rely heavily on partners like Ellucian and ACI to help make things better for students.
GS: You mentioned security, which is a big concern for colleges and universities. One survey showed that 21% of colleges and universities have had payments data stolen in the past year. How is Ursinus College addressing these concerns?
EC: One of the drivers of moving to cloud computing for us is the rock-solid level of security that’s available today. Our IT staff makes sure we’re secure with our student logons. Students use single sign-on to access their accounts, and unless they share it with someone else, their information is secure. In addition, to make sure we’re compliant, we rely heavily on our vendors to monitor and ensure there is a high level of security available in the cloud.
Moreover, if I receive a call and someone wants to make a payment on the phone, I can enter the payment directly on the website, without having to physically write down information that later needs to be shredded. So, any sensitive data is always protected.
GS: What are some advancements in campus payments that students and families of Ursinus College can benefit from?
EC: We offer students and parents convenient, secure online payment options. Parents and third parties can have proxy access to student accounts, so if the student fails to make a payment, parents can submit a payment on their behalf. While some still use paper checks to make payments, each year we’ve seen a rise in the popularity of online payments.
Last year, after seeing the success of online payments, we began to offer automatic payments plans to reduce the effort on the part of students and their families in making payments that were timebound. Many times, delinquent payments are simply the result of a student forgetting to make the payment on time. After implementing automatic payment plans, we’ve seen a reduction in delinquent payments from 5% to 2% within one year.
GS: The faster payments initiative is making its way to the US; what are your thoughts on faster payments – how will that improve the experience for students? What benefits will students/parents be able to get from faster payments?
EC: In my opinion, any opportunity to make payments user-friendly, easier and faster for families and students is something that would no doubt work well. As I mentioned earlier, a lot of delinquent payments are simply a result of students forgetting to make a payment on time. When they do remember to pay, they get further delayed by the time it takes for banks to transfer the money. With faster payments, students will benefit from the ability to make last-minute bill payments whenever necessary. Additionally, if we have to issue any student refunds, we would be able to instantly transfer funds back to the student account, which would make a huge impact on customer satisfaction. We’re always open to new ideas in technology that can service our families and students better.
GS: Studies have shown that real-time higher education payments will grow more than 80% annually from 2018-22, and 25% of online bill payments to colleges and universities will be real-time by 2022; Is Ursinus College looking to move towards real-time payments soon?
EC: From a business perspective, the faster we can get paid, the better it is. Most of our student payments come in within three weeks of the start of the semester, so to be able to reduce that time to an “instant” would be excellent and something we would certainly look forward to.
GS: What are your thoughts on the future of campus commerce? What can students and parents expect to see over the next few years across North America as far as campus commerce is concerned?
EC: We’re finding that a majority of our payments are still coming in by check, which we access through our lockbox through the bank. I personally don’t write many checks, so this seems almost archaic to me. I think we will see a huge shift to online payments and fewer checks, especially as security becomes a concern. Paper checks are far less secure than online payments, and people will be less likely to physically write a check, go to the post office, mail it, and then wait until the recipient receives and deposits it. In addition, with faster payments, the ability to make payments using smartphones, and tap-to-pay will take the younger generation over by storm. They’re already glued to their phones!
ACI’s Gene Scriven and Tom Gavin will join Ursinus College’s Ellen Curcio, as well as Ellucian’s Bob Zwarycz at Ellucian Live, to discuss The Future of eCommerce in the Cloud on Wednesday, April 11 in room 25B.
i Ovum’s Global Payments Insight survey sponsored by ACI Worldwide
Related Blog Posts
Success Speaks: Surprising New Ways Students Want to Pay
Colleges and universities are facing the dual tasks of accommodating not only new payment methods, but also a new generation of students, Gen Z, whose expectations differ greatly from even millennials. How can higher education institutions meet these demands?
In our latest Success Speaks webinar, experts from Temple University, FutureCast, ACI and MTFX Group of Companies explored today’s payments landscape for colleges and universities, payment desires of Gen Z, innovations the higher education sector is already implementing and how schools can better assist with international payments.
Why Banks Must Democratize Machine Learning for Fraud Prevention and Payments Intelligence
Banks are already actively on the path to digital transformation, considering new technologies, new customer experiences and new business models. A critical piece of this digital transformation centers on better understanding the wealth of data within the banks’ systems and mining it for improved customer insight. In the New Payments Ecosystem, data is as valuable to the bank and its customers as the deposits held in their accounts, and it should be protected, and leveraged for the benefit of the customer.
Paying Tuition – How Can Universities Make It Painless?
Six in ten families feel anxious about bills, five in ten paid a tuition bill late in the past year, and university student financial services leaders have fewer staff and smaller budgets to help families with their bills.
Survey Shows Millennials Aren’t as ‘Digitally Savvy’ When it Comes to Tax Refunds
It was not so long ago that checks, stamps and envelopes occupied more than the junk drawer in most American households. But as electronic payments and text messaging grew, asking, “Do you have a stamp?” was more likely to be met with a confused look than an actual stamp.
And yet, a recent online survey by YouGov and ACI indicates that there’s still a place for checks when it comes to paying taxes or – at least for Millennials – receiving refunds.
University Payments Made Simple for Students and Parents
According to Sallie Mae, a significant portion of tuition revenue for higher educational institutions comes from students (27%) and parents (44%), with students struggling more to pay their bills on time. As our team gets ready to head to New Orleans for Ellucian Live 2019, we looked at what’s new in the payments realm for higher education institutions, and what students and parents need to ensure their payments are made on time and with less friction. A recent survey from Aite Group, “U.S. Consumer Payments Experience: A Blueprint for Creating Positive Behaviors,” which surveyed 2,425 U.S. consumers, sheds some light on this topic.
Why More Than Half of Gen Z Pays Late
The newest generation of consumers to enter the workforce is Dazed and Confused about how to make bill payments (and they most likely don’t get that reference). In fact, 80% of Gen Z contact companies with billing questions and 53% pay their bills late. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Success Speaks: How Roanoke College Simplified Higher Education Billing and Commerce
Campus commerce has quickly become the ultimate test for payment software providers, IT professionals and administrators. Technology stacks and service offerings are continuously challenged by rapid innovation, just as budgets have begun to shrink. And to top it off, cybersecurity threats lurk around every corner, and even a single breach can destroy student confidence in their institution of higher learning.
Success Speaks: Exploring the Future of Payments Collections in Auto-Finance with SAFCO
When it comes to improving collections, there’s one simple question your organization should ask before embarking on any type of payments project: what does “customer service” mean to our customers?
Success Speaks: UC San Diego Health Transforms Bill Payments to Improve Patient Satisfaction
Primum non nocere, “first, do no harm,” is a Latin maxim that serves as a fundamental principle of the medical community. Essentially, the phrase states that in some cases, it may be better to do nothing than to intervene. For UC San Diego Health, however, intervention was necessary to transform their billing and deliver an improved payments experience for their patients.
Instant and Digital: The Next Frontier of Bill Payment
We’d all like an inexpensive, simple and consolidated way to pay our bills, and we’re seeing a growing list of upstarts entering the market to meet this need. Customer interaction during the billing process is a critical touchpoint to maintain relationships and potentially enhance the customer experience, but third-party solutions that offer enhanced ease of use could get in the way. Companies need to respond with an engaging bill pay offering, which includes real-time payments.