Wednesday, 26 July 2017 13:10

Digitising school payments good for teachers, parents and saving money


A new “Digital payments in education” report shows thousands of hours in teacher and admin time savings, and claims big monetary savings are definitely possible.

A new Deloitte reports shows that, by digitising manual payments processes, “Australian schools could redirect more than 2000 hours of teacher and admin time towards learning outcomes per school, and take up to $2.6 billion in cash out of the system".

This is according to Richard Miller, Deloitte’s Payments Practice Leader, who “measured the impact of digital payments technology on the efficiency of schools’ admin systems and their processes in Deloitte’s Digital Payments in Education report” which you can freely download in full here.

The report found that “although educators have been actively digitising the classroom experience, admin services are being left behind.”

Miller said: “Today — in 2017 — most of our primary and secondary schools enjoy high-speed Internet and employ digital learning facilities. Yet the majority of schools around the country have not yet updated their admin systems and continue to take payments manually.

“What happens in the front end administration of schools has a big impact on teachers, the admin staff and importantly parents. We found that there are a lot of payments being made in schools that have little to do with delivering the learning outcomes of schools, but are part of running a typical school.

“School lunches are an excellent example of this. There are various systems on the market that take what used to be a paper process, and by digitising it through an app, turn it into a service that parents find convenient to use to order and pay for their children’s lunches online. That takes the cash out of the system. It makes it a lot easier for parents to deal with on a day to day basis. And it reduces the manual and administrative tasks associated with delivering a lunch program in schools.

“We found everyone preferred the digital outcome. If schools in Australia digitised the estimated $2.6 billion worth of payments a year, they could realise efficiencies averaging $84,000 a year per school. More importantly, they could save teachers and admin staff 2,145 hours on average a year to refocus on learning outcomes.”

So, what’s more background and additional findings?

By looking at the schools which had transitioned to a digital payment system, Deloitte found that “as well as saving time and money, the move to digital payments also reduces the risk of fraud and cash losses, as well as improving parents’ experience of dealing with school fees, lunch orders and excursions".

Miller added: “Parents prefer the digitised option. So given both improved satisfaction levels and the savings in time and costs, we expect more schools and their senior leadership will adopt digital apps and processes in the coming 12 months.”

The report also found that “digital payments services for schools typically include online payments, mobile apps and real time data feeds to suppliers and administrative staff. However, more innovative schools are also exploring innovations such as e-permission excursion slips and automated notifications for teachers, typically delivered through smartphone-based apps".

Following adoption of digital payments a teacher said: “There is so much less time wasting and distractions – I can get on with what I need to do now.”

A school administrator said: “By reducing the focus on the payments, we have been able to spend more quality time with the children and more time on policy to ensure learning outcomes are met.”

What’s more detail on the 2017 Digital Payments in Education Report?

Deloitte explains that “the research supporting this report was obtained through desk research, engagement with subject matter experts and a series of interviews at Australian primary and secondary schools. This sample included six government schools across three states (Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia).”

The research used “Qkr with Masterpass, an online mobile payment application developed by Mastercard. All the schools in this sample had implemented Qkr for more than one year".

“Our studies show that based on time savings and transactions fees, the total cost of processing payments was 60% less than before implementing Qkr,” Miller said.

Martin Collings, vice-president, Commerce Platform, Digital Payments & Labs, Mastercard, said: “The adoption of Qkr with Masterpass in schools across Australia has streamlined administration processes for everything from school offices, to canteens, to uniform shops. We are delighted to see the Deloitte study also demonstrates how this technology is removing a large admin burden from teachers so that they can focus more time on teaching.

“The benefits of the Qkr mobile payments app for both parents and school staff have made introducing this technology an easy decision for a growing number schools all over the country,” he added.

You can freely download the full report here.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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