- Why TransferMate
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 billion||1,750||38+ years|
|Students served||Transactions facilitated||Education institutions partnered with||Of higher education focus|
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.
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 meant 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.”
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.”
“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 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.
“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.
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 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.”
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.”
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.
“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.
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