International Payments | Case Studies

How the University of Edinburgh (ACE) saved time and money with streamlined bank transfers

The University of Edinburgh (Accommodation, Catering and Events) provides student accommodation and wanted a solution that allowed their international students to pay rent in their local currency. They opted for an integrated API solution to help increase efficiencies for their finance team and provide a seamless payment experience for their students.

Saving time and money
Saving time and money with streamlined bank transfers

Making the payment acceptance process more efficient

Integrated the WU® GlobalPay for Students platform with the accommodation booking system, Kinetic Solutions, for international payments

Minimum annual cost saving of £60K on transactions.1

The Challenge: The need for a more efficient bank transfer process

As the sixth oldest university in the English-speaking world, The University of Edinburgh has a proud history of noted alumni including Nobel laureates, Olympic champions and prime ministers.

The university has offered student accommodation since 1960, with approximately 10,200 being offered accommodation in the 2018/19 school period alone. 75% of them are international students.

In the past, students could only accept accommodation contracts if they could pay by debit or credit card or set up a payment plan. However, every year students would request the university’s bank details, so they could settle their fees in full.

According to Souvina Grozier, Student Credit Manager at Accommodation, Catering and Events, a division of The University of Edinburgh, “The bank transfer process generated a number of issues including payment shortfalls due to unexpected bank charges, reconciliation problems, and payment delays of up to 10 days which made it difficult for students to accept their accommodation contracts within the expected timeframe.”

In addition, Ms Grozier’s team had no visibility on payments made to the university’s bank accounts, which caused delays in answering student queries. Accommodation, Catering and Events set out to refine its payments processes for student accommodation and provide a seamless and simple experience.

“Western Union Business Solutions has allowed the university to overcome challenges that many of our international students faced when trying to pay for their accommodation fees.”

-- Souvina Grozier, Student Credit Manager, The University of Edinburgh, (Accommodation, Catering and Events)

The Solution: Integration and automation

The University’s finance department as already working together with Western Union Business Solutions, using its WU® GlobalPay for Students platform to accept bank transfer payments from international students. Accommodation, Catering and Events, from The University of Edinburgh, asked Western Union Business Solutions for an integrated solution with Kinetic Solutions, who provide an online student accommodation booking system with back office integration to help simplify the management of student accommodation.

Ms Grozier explains, “After reviewing our options, it was clear that Western Union Business Solutions and its WU GlobalPay for Students platform was a right fit or the job. They really took the time to listen to our business and student needs and acted as a great facilitator to ensure an integrated solution was delivered as scoped.”

WU GlobalPay for Students, an online payment platform that simplifies student payments and backend reconciliation, was integrated into Kinetic Solutions’ software to help streamline the bank transfer process. All bank transfers are now automatically recorded in Kinetic Solutions system and upon receipt of their payment confirmation, students are now able to accept their online accommodation contract without the need to send any proof of payment to the university, making the entire process more efficient

The Results: Significant cost and time savings

Since completing the WU GlobalPay for Students integration, the university’s finance department has made a minimum annual cost saving of £60K1 on transactions and saved an estimated 63 hours per annum now that payment processing is more efficient.

Students who opt to pay by bank transfer no longer need to contact the finance Department to send proof of payment. They can now accept their accommodation contract online once their payment is complete.

Students are also now able to make international payments in their local currency, which means that costs are transparent and the University receives payments in full.

“Students benefit from a transparent exchange rate locked in for 72 hours, while the university now spends less time chasing up short payments caused by bank fees and conversion costs.

“The Western Union Business Solutions back office portal is intuitive to use so the finance department can easily search for transactions and support student queries. This has helped enhance our students’ payment experience and has led to significant operating efficiencies” said Ms Grozier.

Disclaimer: This example is for illustrative purposes only. Your results may vary.

1. Calculation based on what the University of Edinburgh (Accommodation, Catering & Events) transaction costs would have been if enrolled students had paid by credit card.