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In a sentence: Transact Campus was looking for a white-label solution that would allow their university clients to offer a seamless, transparent and cost-effective way for international students to pay for tuition.

Transact by the Numbers:

12 million$45 billion1,75038+ years
Students servedTransactions facilitated  Education institutions partnered withOf higher education focus  

The Challenge

Times have changed a lot since Transact Campus started specializing in the higher education market 38 years ago. It wouldn’t be until nearly a decade later that student campus ID cards were introduced in the US, and a digitally integrated campus was just an ambition for education administrators.

Transact has been at the forefront of the dramatic change we see today in how students engage and interact with their campus and the university itself.

They were the first to work with Apple and Google to integrate a contactless student ID credential on smartphones and watches so with a tap of their phone, students can make purchases or securely access dorms and classrooms.  

Transact helped pioneer campus commerce through point-of-sale and mobile ordering. On top of that, Transact Integrated Payments solutions – focused around tuition and fees – was aimed at making campus payments a seamless experience for the students and their families.

The challenge for Transact was bringing this frictionless and transparent experience of tuition payments to international students wanting to study in the U.S. Previously, international students would have to leave the Transact ecosystem to make a payment, meaning the data was split between two systems – both for the student and the the school administrator.

“The payment would initiate through our system, but we would then have to hand it off to a second provider” said Laura McLaughlin, Executive Vice President, Transact. “So, we wouldn’t know if the payment actually went through. It meant a lot of follow-up with the second provider asking for reports and manually reviewing spreadsheets to confirm the payment was processed. Basically, a lot of reviewing and reconciliation.”

What’s more, the old system meant international student payments were subject to high banking fees and significant FX (foreign exchange) charges – something Transact wanted to eliminate for the students.

The Solution

TransferMate's API integrated solution made it easier for Transact to process international student payments.
TransferMate’s API integrated solution made it easier for Transact to process international student payments

Utlizing TransferMate’s global payments infrastructure and technology, Transact is able to co-create a fully integrated international payments solution. Through API integrations, TransferMate sat in the background as a white-label solution. For the students, this mean they no longer had to register and use two separate systems to make a payment. This meant a lot of positive changes for the Transact team. 

“It’s really painful to have to reconcile payments from two different systems and there is a lot of follow-up involved. Sometimes, because the systems weren’t fully integrated, the student would overpay which causes its own administrative challenges. It could become a painful process. And we thought, “We’re in the payment space. This is what we do. We facilitate over $45 million dollars annually. How can we make this process easier for our clients?”

So, Transact engaged with TransferMate to create a bespoke API integration that would solve these issues around international student payments. The result was ‘Transact International Payments’ which provides Transact’s university partners a streamlined way to accept international tuition payments in multiple currencies.

“The building and implementation of the API solution went really well. We learned together as we went, and we both had to develop things on each side to make it work. In order for us to succeed, we needed to have a trusted partnership, be transparent with each other, and agree fully on the timeframe for implementation. I think it was a great partnership because we both had the singular focus on getting this up and running, making it really attractive and seamless, and solving those pain points for our clients.”

The backbone to the system was the global payments infrastructure TransferMate had built up over many years. By obtaining banking licenses in over 90 countries, they allowed the Transact International Payments solution to process payments from 201 countries and 141 currencies.

Leveraging this infrastructure, the API integration was built to match Transact’s system and the requirements of their finance team, making the whole process seamless for all stakeholders – from the students to the universities and for Transact itself.

And, because this global payments infrastructure didn’t use the traditional banking system to process international student payments, which often means the money travels between several different banks and third-party entities (each charging a fee), the cost to the students of making the payment was significantly reduced.   

As the money moved through a single system, this also meant transparency for everybody was increased dramatically. The student, university and Transact could see when a payment was made, when it was accepted, and any steps in between.

“I think we have taken the friction out of the process for our university clients and have made it a lot easier to see transparent payments through a singular system. We now fully understand and can track where that payment is, and when it’s coming in. And transparency extends to the students and their parents, particularly in making it easier to what their options are, and not have a disparate experience between multiple systems. I also would say that the economics have been beneficial for students.”

Results

A smooth international student payments process is a key part of attracting students from abroad
Over 100 schools have already signed up to Transact International Payments since its launch

The Transact International Payments solution has been welcomed enthusiastically by the university community, solving some long-held problems in the tuition payments process. 

“It’s clearly evidenced that we’ve solved a real pain point because, even though we’re in relatively early days, we have over 100 schools signed up for the Transact International Payments solution and only in a few short months. Our clients clearly see the value and benefit to themselves and their students.”

While the breadth of the challenges was significant – by delivering a more transparent, cost-effective, secure, and seamless experience for campus operations and students – all the objectives have been met through the partnership.

“We needed to ensure we had the international reach for this to be effective for students. With TransferMate’s global footprint, we were able to not only offer the service to the top 10 countries with students coming to the United States, but countries with smaller populations as well. The cost factor was critical for us too. We needed to be sure that the service was really competitive and the most economical choice. Finally, we really wanted to work with somebody that we felt we could have a true strategy partner, not just a– we weren’t looking for a vendor. It was really important for us that we worked together, that there was longevity in the relationship, that there was trust in that relationship, and that we had ease of working together.”

The Final Word

“I definitely would recommend TransferMate. They are easy to work with, transparent on how things are going, and from a project management perspective, we’ve had unbelievable support in getting things done. At the end of the process, we’ve been able to build something great that will benefit students and universities alike – you can see that from the take-up.”

Laura McLaughlin, Executive Vice President, Transact

To join the 100+ universities that have taken advantage of the Transact International Payments solution, click here to request a custom demo.

In a sentence: American College Dublin were spending too much time tracking and managing payments – they needed a system that would bring significant time savings for the finance team. They got even more.

The Challenge

The American College Dublin (ACD) is located in the birthplace of Oscar Wilde. Across the street, a statue of the great writer sits relaxing on a giant stone, looking across to where he spent his youth. In the tradition of their former resident, American College Dublin is primarily a liberal arts college.

Rather than being a place for Americans to study in Dublin, the ethos behind the university was to bring that liberal arts style education to the students of Ireland. Over the years, it’s grown both in size and reputation, and has indeed become a place for international students to come to Ireland and study. In recent years, Buzzfeed listed it as one of the top-five best places to study abroad.

The challenge for American College Dublin when it came to their accounting process was two-fold; 1) tracking and managing payments from across the world, and 2) their strategic plan to expand globally.

Simply tracking the payments was a struggle, leading to significant administration time being spent on tracking the source of payments and where they were in the banking system. Secondly, the cost to the students of making the payments often led to a shortfall in the amount received into the ACD account, leading to further time being spent on follow-up with the student and also adding complexity to the reconciliation process.

“A lot of the pain came down to tracking the payments”

“Our student body essentially breaks down into a third Irish, a third American, and a third from the rest of the world’ says Rowland Crawte, Director of Administration, American College Dublin. ‘A lot of the pain came down to tracking the payments. We’d spend an awful amount of time figuring out where payments came from, who was sending them, and for what. You’d have situations where you have a student whose uncle’s company is paying for them, or something along those lines. Trying to figure that all out from very little information was very, very difficult and time consuming.”

Another challenge came as American College Dublin was expanding its presence across the world, opening up a new college in Bulgaria. This meant the finance team needed a simple and cost-effective way to make and receive payments for the school.

“We also have a truly international faculty coming in to the school – composers from Japan, America, Italy, South Africa, and many more – which meant we had to set-up an easy way to pay these people, and not to be too concerned about where they were coming from. We wanted to focus on the quality, not the process.”

The final challenge was the visa process for students – usually requiring proof of payment of the tuition to be granted. In the past, as the process was slow and time-consuming, any delays there would also mean a delay in the visa application for students. This again led to more administrative support being required to manage all the issues (and complaints) coming from these delays.  

The Solution

Students celebrating
The system has led to easier, more transparent and cost-effective student payments

With TransferMate’s platform, American College Dublin were soon up and running with all the requirements they needed to solve their issues.

“Everything was very simple. TransferMate already knew how the approach works with international students so it was just a case of giving them our regulatory information needed to set-up the account. The actual technical implementation was utterly painless. It was basically 24 hours and we were switched over.”

The system itself made tracking and managing international payments so efficient that American College Dublin started using it to process domestic payments as well.

“It’s become our one true source! We’re not just using this for international students, we’re using this for all our payments. And it’ll make our life a lot easier”

“It was so great having that one place where all the information lay. So, if somebody says “Oh, I’ve paid” I can simply log-in and within a few seconds I can see if they have. It’s no longer a case of me having to go in to look through one bank account or check the US bank account or anything like that – I just go into one system. It’s become our one true source! We’re not just using this for international students, we’re using this for all our payments. And it’ll make our lives a lot easier.”

The cost-effectiveness of the system was also welcomed by the team. As TransferMate’s payment rails don’t use the traditional banking system (where payments go through many intermediaries, each taking a fee for their services), and instead utilize the payment rails they have built themselves, the banking and FX fees were much lower.

“The old system was hitting our bottom line – there’s no question about that. We had tried many, many ways of doing this before TransferMate and we thought we had gotten the best rates we possible could. It was only when the TransferMate team explained how they operated that the penny dropped that there was this whole new way of doing this. At first, the decision was made on the basis of this – cost – but it’s really been the time savings that have made such a difference to how we work, and to our bottom line.”

The systems success in Bulgaria has also encouraged the team to further expand internationally.

“We have a couple of plans for courses that are aimed internationally. This system, again, allows us that option. That just wouldn’t have been that simple before.”

For visa applications, it hasn’t just sped up the process for students and made it easier for all parties, it’s helped the university proactively protect themselves against money-laundering schemes – a common threat when it comes to international tuition payments.

“It’s really helped us tighten up the security side. Before, we had requests from people saying, “Oh, can you transfer that back to my cousin in the UK?”, or something similar. With TransferMate, it’s very, very clear – you pay from this bank account, you are refunded to that bank account. Before we were chasing up on these things, now we’ve eliminated all that.”

Results

Students in university
International payments cost less for students, and are easier to administer for the university team

It wasn’t just the finance team that benefited from the TransferMate system, it was the whole college.

“It’s increased the revenue of the college by about 3%, just purely on the savings we make on bank charges and credit card charges.”

“It’s increased the revenue of the college by about 3%, just purely on the savings we make on bank charges and credit card charges.”

The amount of time saved by the finance team was also very significant.

“In terms of processing time; I would say per payment we’ve probably knocked 20 to 30% off the amount of time that we would normally have spent chasing up those things.”

With the TransferMate system in place, the American College Dublin have added revenue to the bottom-line, saved substantial administration time on the payments process, enhanced the student experience, saved the students money, and added greater protection against fraud and money-laundering.

The Final Word

“I’d wholeheartedly recommend TransferMate. Besides the time and cost savings, and the better student experience it helps us deliver, the customer service is impeccable. If I have any issues – and there haven’t been many – there’s always a response. If anyone is thinking about it, I’d say start the conversation as soon as possible.”

Rowland Crawte, Director of Administration, American College Dublin


If you’d like to learn how TransferMate can save your university time and money when processing payments, get in touch with the team here.

When the Knights Templar set-up what is often regarded as the first international banking system, the church didn’t allow them to charge interest. When a pilgrim lodged money in a Templar bank in London, and collected it in Jerusalem, they received every penny of their original lodgment.  

Of course, the Templars got around this through a variety of loopholes, but it wasn’t for another couple of centuries that modern banking methods had interest and fees as standard practice.

This system built was built upon and expanded, middleman upon middleman, as the world became more globalized and interconnected. By the time we got to the latter part of the 20th century, the global payments system was a tangled spiderweb where money would be routed from the payer to the payee through several banks and third-party handlers – all taking a cut as it passed through their hands.

Foreign exchange rates added a layer of complication, causing headaches for finance departments trying to predict if the amount they sent across an international border would arrive at the destination as expected.

This has all changed.

With modern fintech infrastructure, businesses can cut out layers of those middlemen, using new payment rails to reduce FX fees and banking costs when making international payments.

How to reduce banking fees and costs when making international payments

It’s important when looking at this area not just to look at the ‘what’ but also the ‘how’. Once you understand how it all works, the solutions (and their benefits) become obvious.

1. Accessing new payment rails

Traditional correspondent banking is built on that network created over centuries. It’s complex and uses multiple handlers along a payment chain. If you send a payment from the US into Australia, for example, that payment may go through several banks, each taking their fee for moving the money through the chain.

A survey focused on international payments showed that 48% of respondents were unhappy with the fees charged, while 80% of businesses would consider changing providers to reduce costs.

Saxo Payments

And it’s not just those fees that cost businesses; it’s the time delays, lack of transparency, and reconciliation issues that goes along with this type of payment process.

With today’s fintech payment solutions, businesses can access payment rails with much less steps along the path. Instead of going through multiple banks and third parties, they go directly from one country to another.

How is this possible?  

Basically, a new international payments infrastructure has been created over the last decade or so. These fintech’s have gone out to each individual country and secured regulatory licenses to operate there, allowing their clients to access these payment rails themselves and generate all kinds of benefits.

Because they have put in the groundwork in creating this simpler and more straightforward infrastructure, they can charge those clients much lower fees than traditional banking methods.

Additionally, because they control this network their clients can have complete transparency over their payments, seeing it move (often instantaneously) through the chain at every step. It also helps reduce administration time because there are never any follow-up payments to make up shortfalls due to unexpected bank charges, and it reduces support questions from suppliers enquiring where their payment is.

2. Using automation for mass payments and reconciliation

Accounts payable and receivables is a complex business at the best of times. Every step in the chain is a potential for more complexity, making it difficult to reconcile payments and resolve errors when they happen.

This leads to significant resources being put into administrative work, requiring the need for more staff and, maybe more importantly, staff not working on more productive activities.

Our platform allows the user to upload one file and request up to 10,000 payments at once in multiple currencies”

David Hughes, Chief Commercial officer, Transfermate

Beyond potential errors, even large enterprises will often be using multiple platforms to record invoices and reconcile payments, leading to more administration time connecting the dots, and leaving financial leaders in the dark on a daily basis. This also makes mass, batch payments much harder to manage and execute.  

Modern fintech platforms solves many of these issues.

By using API integration and other embedded technologies, fintech’s offer businesses platforms that can significantly reduce administration time, eliminate errors, allows for same-day payments in many cases (with receipt confirmations), gives the user the ability to make mass payments in multiple currencies, and give them visibility over the process in real time.

This hasn’t been the result of a single breakthrough. It’s been achieved through innovative technical engineering combined with that payment’s infrastructure built up over years of diligent work.

How to reduce FX fees and costs when making international payments

Outside of Traditional Bank
Traditional banking payment rails can lead to unexpected FX commissions being charged

Many of the same reasons that modern payment rails reduce banking fees also apply to the reduction of FX fees, with a few nuances and additional benefits.

1. Leveraging the modern payments infrastructure to reduce FX fees

Those same steps along the chain that generate banking fees are also vulnerable to detrimental exchange rates and handler commissions. The outcome is also the same – additional costs to the bottom-line and the payment sent may not be the payment received.  

SMEs are often charged up to 4% (and higher) using the more traditional payment providers

Money mover

By using the modern payments infrastructure, and its shorter payment rails, businesses can take advantage of lower fees. But how do these platforms offer lower fees? Put simply, because the money goes through less steps on the chain due to the infrastructure they’ve built, the fintech providers are not paying the normal correspondent banking rates and therefore can pass on those lower fees to their clients. When that relationship gets to a certain scale, it can even mean that clients are offered a percentage of the FX commission back to them, generating a revenue stream from their international payment activities.

2. Improve international currency management through fintech software

Visibility over how much cash a company has, where it sits, and what currencies it is divided into, can be a more difficult task than it would seem at the surface level. This is particularly true in large, multi-national enterprises.

The result of this can be the inefficient allocation of resources and being in danger of getting caught by currency fluctuations.  

With modern solutions, company’s can gain much more visibility over their international currency holdings. They can manage payments in one account, view all their holdings on one platform, lock in currency rates for future payments, and allow customers to pay in their local currency.

This leap forward allows treasury, procurement and finance departments work together more efficiently and transparently, allowing an agile allocation of resources depending on the business needs.

The more things change, the more they stay the same

When we look back at those first international payment networks, controlled by knights and popes, it’s difficult to reconcile them with the systems we have today.

It’s hard to imagine a time without high handling fees and commissions on currency exchanges, but in a lot of ways we’re moving closer to that original system than ever before. The pilgrim that took their promissory note thousands of miles over border after border, only to be given the same amount they put in at the start of their journey when they reach their destination, is analogous to the journey our international payments go through today.

Through building a new banking and payments infrastructure, and combining it with innovative technologies, modern fintech’s offer businesses a new way of payments very similar to the old one – albeit a lot quicker than carrying it all the way yourself.


To learn how TransferMate can reduce your banking and FX fees when making international payments, get in touch with the team.

TransferMate, the world’s leading provider of payments infrastructure as a service, and WEX, a global financial technology service provider, today launched new capabilities that simplify how businesses of all sizes execute complex international payments. Through the partnership, TransferMate has integrated its leading payments technology directly into the WEX system. WEX clients will be able to execute seamless international transfers with ease, and experience new levels of simplicity, security and speed through TransferMate’s extensive global payments network.

With the custom integration, WEX – known globally as a leader in corporate payments – will be able to expand its offering to give clients domestic, regional and international transfer capabilities via TransferMate. The partnership shows a commitment by both organizations to improve the payment options for global companies, enabling international transfers at lower costs, higher speeds and with greater reconcilement benefits.

Sinead Fitzmaurice, CEO of TransferMate, a subsidiary of Clune Technology Group, said: “We are excited to join forces with WEX to provide the most efficient payment process possible for global businesses. At TransferMate, we are committed to making international payments easier than ever before and a key way to accomplish that is through strategic partnerships with likeminded, cutting-edge companies in the industry, like WEX.”

The TransferMate and WEX partnership streamlines payment management and reconciliation for accounts teams, allowing for full transparency and one login to make fast and secure payments. With the new capabilities of the WEX payments platform, businesses can take control of their business spend, with tracking, insights, security and automated reconciliation. 

Jay Dearborn, President of Corporate Payments at WEX, said: “Through the WEX and TransferMate partnership, businesses will be able to make domestic, inter regional and cross-border payments by paying locally in their own currency, with funds settled locally in the beneficiary’s currency. As WEX continues to unify global AP to AR payments processes, we are thrilled to provide new flexibility and payment rail choice to our customers–helping them save both time and money as a result of simplifying the traditional transfer process.”

About TransferMate Global Payments

TransferMate — a subsidiary of Clune Technology Group founded by Terry Clune — is the world’s leading provider of payments infrastructure as a service, enabling companies to send and receive cross-border payments faster and easier. TransferMate, under the leadership of Clune and CEO Sinead Fitzmaurice, has built one of the largest portfolios of payments licences worldwide, including in 51 US states and territories, to support trading in 162 countries.

Leading banks, fintechs and software providers partner with TransferMate to offer an enhanced user experience for their business customers. The company has created bespoke integrations for banks like ING and AIB, who are also investors in the company, and Wells Fargo and software providers such as Coupa, SAP Concur, Tradeshift, Workday, etc. The TransferMate API solution allows partners to digitalise the payments flow within their software, enabling all businesses to achieving significant time and financial savings. For more information, visit www.transfermate.com.

About WEX

Powered by the belief that complex payment systems can be made simple, WEX (NYSE: WEX) is a leading financial technology service provider across a wide spectrum of sectors, including fleet, corporate payments, travel and health. WEX has offices in more than 10 countries and employs more than 5,200 associates around the world. WEX fleet cards offer approximately 16 million vehicles exceptional payment security and control; purchase volume in travel and corporate solutions was $20.9 billion in 2020 and was processed in over 20 currencies; our health division provides consumer-directed healthcare technology and services, and reached an estimated 34.3 million U.S. consumers as of March 31, 2021. For more information, visit www.wexinc.com.

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