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Managing payments for a university can be a challenge and asking the right questions to find optimal higher education payment solutions is key. Aside from sprawling campuses (or multiple campuses) with various departments, finding alignment is difficult. Even just one department or campus merchant looking to implement new payment technology has its job cut out. 

Thankfully, there is guidance to follow when making any changes to payments tech or operations. Making good decisions starts with asking the right questions. We’ve put together some of the key considerations and questions to ask before you get started. 

1. How do students, staff, and faculty prefer to pay?

When looking at new payments technology (or evaluating the old), it’s critical to look at the behaviors of those primarily using it. In 2023, Gen Z is embracing mobile and contactless technology. According to Global Payments, more than half (57%) of Gen Z used a digital wallet in 2021 – up from 50% in 2020. Nearly three-quarters of BNPL users are either Gen Z or millennials. Just one in five Gen Z’ers says they plan to pay with cash in the future, according to Logica Research – a significant finding. 

Understanding these trends can ensure you implement the right technology to serve your customers across campus according to their needs. 

2. How protected are we against security threats and breaches?

This one is a big one. Higher education institutions continue to be prime targets for hackers and cybercriminals. And global data breaches are on the rise, too. According to IBM Security’s “The Cost of a Data Breach Report,” the average cost of a data breach increased from $4.24 million in 2021 to $4.35 million last year – the highest yet.

Security breaches pose a major problem and there are many culprits to blame. From lackluster access controls to a lack of training around hacker tactics, colleges and universities are lagging. PCI compliance is just one piece of the security pie. Without adequate training of students, staff, and faculty on network security along with adequate controls, schools are at risk. Beyond internal education, schools should also work with an experienced partner to find the right higher education payment solutions that are compliant and secure. 

3. How can higher education payment solutions help us with compliance?

PCI compliance is not a “once-and-done” endeavor. PCI compliance is ongoing and requires universities to stay on top of their game. This goes beyond implementing technology that enables encryption and tokenization to keep cardholder data safe. True PCI compliance bleeds into every part of payments operations, including dedicated staff to ensure that things are functioning as expected and vulnerabilities are addressed. 

  • PCI assessments must occur annually, but remaining compliant requires year-round attention. To remain compliant, universities (and all their departments) must consider: 
  • Maintaining a firewall
  • Creating unique passwords
  • Protecting stored data
  • Encrypting transmission of cardholder data
  • Implementing and updating antivirus software
  • Maintaining secure systems, networks, and applications
  • Restricting access to cardholder data

It’s a full-time job, to be sure. With many universities stretched thin on resources, these tasks often get divided up among disparate teams and team members. This can make coordination difficult. 

While these questions are great starting points for assessing and updating payments technology, it goes much deeper. If you would like to learn more about how our seasoned team of payments professionals can help you assess your systems and technology, reach out for a free consultation today. 

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