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Higher education institutions are increasingly transitioning to digital campus payments – and with good reason. The move is primarily driven by evolving student preferences, though the need for enhanced security and better efficiency are factors, too. 

Digital campus payments are easier on everyone. With the right tools and systems in place, universities can better track and analyze payments while allowing students to pay in the ways they want. But digital campus payments still contend with cash and checks, which pose risks that can cause serious problems for schools. 

We explore the changing tides toward digital payments – and what to expect. 

The Decline of Cash and Checks

The global shift from cash and checks to digital payments is unmistakable. Studies reveal a steady decline in the use of cash and checks, attributed to the convenience, speed, and security offered by digital payment methods. 

For instance, in the United States, cash usage for payments has dropped significantly, with predictions suggesting it might fall into single digits by 2030. Checks, too, have seen a decline, with their usage for payments dropping from 15.6% in 2012 to 8.3% in 2018 in the U.S. alone​​. 

This transition to digital makes sense; cash and checks pose risks such as theft, loss, and fraud. Cash can be easily stolen or misplaced, and checks are susceptible to being lost or intercepted. Digital payments, in contrast, offer enhanced tracking and monitoring, significantly reducing these risks. Moreover, digital payments challenge activities like counterfeiting and money laundering due to their traceability​​.

Digital Payment Options in Higher Education

Universities face mounting pressure to modernize their payment systems. The need for seamless digital solutions is critical for attracting and retaining students. And decentralized payment systems in universities can lead to administrative chaos, emphasizing the need for integrated digital payment solutions​​.

What’s more, digital payments provide flexible payment options that can ease the financial burden on students and families. Diverse payment methods, including digital options, can make it easier to pay for everything from tuition to dining options for both domestic and international students. This is especially true on the international front as nearly 80% of institutions identified flexible payment options as vital for attracting international students​​.

Centralized digital payment systems also improve university revenue collection. By integrating payments into a unified system, universities can better manage their finances and provide a smoother customer experience​​.

Benefits of Integrated Digital Payment Solutions

A unified, integrated digital payments solution can solve a variety of problems – from offering more diverse payment options to reducing administrative workloads and simplifying compliance. Enhanced security is another standout feature, especially considering the toll of breaches on higher education. In 2023 alone, data breaches cost higher education and training organizations $3.7M on average

Colleges and universities may find that modernizing payments operations is best done one step at a time. The transition to digital campus payments is a necessity rather than a trend, and it’s important to get it right. Digitizing payments and payment systems will enhance security, efficiency, and financial inclusivity. In turn, universities can offer more streamlined, secure, and convenient payment experiences to their students. 

Navigating a complex web of payments solutions and vendors may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Arrow Payments has decades of experience in higher education payments, and our seasoned team of experts can guide you through the modernization process from start to finish. Contact us today for a free consultation. 

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