Dec 17, 2019 | International Payments

Top 10 questions to ask your payments provider

Today’s students and parents have high expectations for paying their international tuition and fees, which can be challenging for institutions.

Education _ PaymentsProvider
Today’s students and parents have high expectations for paying their international tuition and fees, which can be challenging for schools.

With new technological innovations, the payments landscape is changing faster than ever, giving students and their parents a rapidly expanding number of ways to pay. These users are looking for flexibility, choice and ultimately a better purchasing experience. Payers want a solution that is convenient, accessible and seamless to use on any device. As your institution evolves to deliver on these expectations, choosing the right international payments provider can be an overwhelming task. The right payments partner can make a big difference for your educational institution and offer students choice. Choosing the wrong payments provider can expose your institution’s reputation and your student’s funds. 

Here are top ten questions to ask your international payments provider:

1. Can your partner meet all of your incoming and outgoing payment needs, allowing you to send and receive funds internationally?
Accounts payable teams devote countless hours to chasing missing funds, reconciling payments and answering student queries. Your payments provider should enable you to manage payments from your international students and allow you to make international payments with no additional fees. This option streamlines the payment experience and reduces the cost for your institution by avoiding manual reconciliation of each transaction.

2. Does your international payments provider have in-country bank accounts or do they rely on third party banking relationships to deliver their local currency capability?
Although it may not seem necessary, this feature can help with the cost and speed of international payments processing. Rather than have each tuition payment travel through multiple third-party financial institutions for exchange, funds can be deposited and transferred with ease.

3. Is your partner legally authorised to send money internationally (so you can confidently make refunds and transactions with your students)? Does your partner have the appropriate licenses to carry out its global business?
Choosing your service provider for collecting foreign tuition payments is crucial. Not all money transmitter providers are licensed and capable of identifying threats to your educational institution. Your provider may need to be licensed in every state or country in which they do business in. Because of technological advancements, fraud and money laundering in the industry are on the rise and the payments of international students are at risk.

4. Can your payments provider easily integrate with the institution’s existing system?
Your international payments provider should seamlessly integrate with all major payment processors via an API or hosted solution. This allows international bank transfer payments to be applied to student account balances, as part of the student account payment flow, helping to ensure transaction completion within one system. Your school should realise saving in money and time while delivering additional payment options for your students.

5. Do you have proof that your partner is financially stable?
Private companies may be required to publish their financials depending upon the country. Do you have proof that your partner has the size, financial strength and stability to withstand any significant changes in the market? In the event of insolvency, your students’ money and your reputation could be at risk. If an institution’s reputation gets affected as not being able to manage student funds effectively they could be subject to negative PR and social media. This can impact the institution’s reputation, its ability to attract international students, research funding and the best academics, ultimately harming their position on the world rankings.

6. Does your international payments provider have a fraud protection system in place?
A good payments provider should have a firm fraud protection system in place. Does your provider have a dedicated team to help protect clients from fraud and recover the funds if fraud does occur? Look for providers with fraud-fighting specialists with a proven track record. Unfortunately, foreign students can be targeted by fraudsters hoping to steal money set aside for tuition and fees. Partner with a trusted provider so students can pay their fees through a secure platform where they can track their payments, allowing for transparency.

7. Is the international payments provider both insured and held accountable to high compliance and regulatory standards such as PSD2 and GDPR regulation?
Educational institutions are subject to a number of strict regulations and compliance standards. Your payments provider must demonstrate that it has qualified personnel, and sufficient controls in place to comply with anti-money laundering laws. They need to be an expert in this area and serve as an asset in your ongoing efforts to adhere to these rules.

8. Will you receive payment quickly, after a student initiates a transfer? Will the solution automatically link messages and reports related to student payments to their account records?
Simplify the payments process for international students and accounts payables staff so you can limit manual work. Not only will automated options save time, but they’ll also reduce errors.

9. Will both the student and your institution have complete access to payment tracking?
Reconcile output needs to be easy for both the student and the accounting staff. To reduce confusion, students should, for example, be able to use their student ID number, since they are likely using it for other administrative tasks. This unique identifier will also help internal staff match payments to their correct enrolee. If both parties can easily check a payment’s status online it should reduce the tedious paperwork and phone calls normally associated with reconciliation.

10. If the institution hasn’t received payment in time, can the provider proactively remind students, parents, or sponsors to initiate payment?
Collecting from students with outstanding balances is generally a challenging and inefficient process. Effective and timely engagement is the key to successfully collecting from students who are currently enrolled and those who have recently left your institution with an outstanding balance. Ideally, your provider can communicate with students before a payment is missed.

Whether you are receiving tuition from a student in India, making an equipment purchase in China or sending funds to a professor on assignment in Africa, make sure your international payments provider can answer yes to all of these crucial questions. Western Union Business Solutions allows you to simplify international student payments and give students a seamless payment experience. This can help expand your recruitment strategy and efforts into new markets with access to new payment corridors. In today’s political climate, it is critical that your international transactions are carefully scrutinised. We bring a serious commitment to regulatory compliance, aiming to only process transactions which are lawful.