The education sector is vast with various types of entities that can be segregated as sub-sectors such as schools, colleges, universities, large tuition/exam preparation classes, and smaller tutorials and EdTech platforms and MOOCs(online).
Every sub-sector works very differently when it comes to payments w.r.t. the requirement, operational flow, settlement process, etc.
Here are a few things that education merchants can focus on when choosing a payment platform. This ensures operational efficiency and better user experience for stakeholders including students, guardians, parents, teachers, vendors, among others.
Relevant payment modes
Education is very different from the other sectors so all the payment modes may not be applicable. When deciding on the payment modes to accept online payments, you can enable modes that are relevant based on the kind of transactions you are expecting and avoid overcrowding the checkout page with too many payment modes.
Example: If the school’s fee amount is around Rs.1,00,000 then wallets as a payment mode may not be useful.
In case of high ticket value transactions, merchants can offer card and cardless EMIs payment options to the payers. The EMI option can encourage payers to move to online payments, for example, lump-sum fee payment for a 12 months online course.
In today’s global world, education doesn’t have boundaries anymore. Merchants can enable international payments to facilitate cross border transactions. One can also look for a payment gateway that supports multiple international currencies so that the payers can pay the amount in their preferred currency.
Bulk payment links and custom payment forms
Using payment links and custom payment forms can be an easier and faster way to collect fee payments for schools and other educational institutions. A merchant can collect fees by uploading a simple file with student information and amount. Once the file is uploaded, payment links can be generated against each order and shared via WhatsApp, SMS or email. The other option can be payment forms that can be shared with payer and payer can fill in all relevant information such as student roll no. name and amount and make the payment via any preferred payment mode.
The modern alternative to challan based payments
Challans have been one of the most prominent payment methods used by institutes to collect fees. Typically institutes generate a unique challan for each individual student. The payer then uses the challans and submits it with a Demand draft or cheque payment at the bank counter.
Using virtual payment collection solutions, a merchant can replicate this age-old process and manage payment collection and reconciliation digitally. Using such solutions, a merchant can generate a unique virtual account number for each student and share the number. The payer can do a simple net-banking transfer to the virtual account number. Since the virtual account numbers are unique, the payment received can be easily mapped to the student, hence automating the otherwise manual process of payment reconciliation. With the advent of UPI, a merchant can even create unique virtual UPI IDs for each student and let payers pay via any smartphone using UPI based apps such as WhatsApp, Paytm, and GooglePay.
Where fee collection is periodic (monthly or quarterly or semi-annually), the merchant can offer an option to the payer to pre-authorize the periodic payment via a one-time standing instruction on card or via e-mandate using card or net banking option.
With this model, institutes can collect fees on time without any manual intervention; while for payer it removes the hassle of going through the payment process multiple times in a year. The subscription payment platforms are ideal for edtech and MOOCs that offer online courses that stretch over a period of time.
UPI is the most widely used and the most economical payment mode. With more users adopting various Apps (Google Pay, PhonePe, AmazonPay, PayTM and BHIM App etc.), institutes can opt for this mode to move the offline payments to online.
Payment reconciliation when incoming payments are of varied nature.
Incoming payments in case of institutes can be of varied nature such as admission fees, hostel fees, books fee, donations, government grants, etc. If all such incoming payments’ headers are clubbed under a single header then it can create reconciliation problems. To manage such payments a merchant can implement either product code/scheme code integration or use a marketplace settlement solution that would split payments based on their nature for easier reconciliation later.
Faster access to funds is paramount to any entity to fulfill their obligations (such as vendor payouts, salary disbursement, utility expenses etc). When choosing a payment platform, an institute needs to look at the payment gateway settlement cycle.
Partner Payout – Edtech platform
EdTech institutes partner with various professionals and other institutions to create content and offer courses. In addition to digital payment collection, an edtech merchant can also look at payment solutions to streamline their payouts including partner payouts. An ideal solution can be marketplace settlements that allow merchants to add multiple beneficiaries and split the payments after adjusting their own commissions and other charges.
Handling payments when using an education ERP
Education ERPs are evolving and are now offering multiple modules such as attendance management, program management, invoicing, inventory management, accounting, and payments. Some advanced ERPs are integrating with banks and other payment aggregators to offer the client’s payment management service.
Institutes that are looking for the digitization of payments can opt for ERPs that offer payment solutions in collaboration with payment aggregators to achieve centralized control and improve efficiency.
Let’s talk payments and user experience
User experience is an important aspect be it any industry. An institute or edtech platform is no exception. Payment experience forms a crucial part of user experience.
In the education industry, if we talk about payments a user can be a student, parent, guardian, or someone who is receiving the payments such as teachers, professors, other staff members, service providers, and vendors.
To ensure good user experience, it is important that the merchant offers a convenient and secure way to make payments while ensuring that he/she is disbursing accurate and timely payments. A smart payment system can help an institute and edtech platform achieve just that.