Stanbic Bank, Uganda’s leading financial services provider recently announced the launch of a digital school fees payments and collections solution aimed at easing the time-consuming and costly process of lining up in bank halls to pay fees. The solution named Stanbic FlexiPay allows parents and students to settle their school fees using the banks various digital solutions as well as Mobile Money.
Our reporter spoke Stanbic’s Head of Public Sector Milly Kyolaba who explained the rationale for FlexiPay and how it makes life easier for the customer. Excerpts
What does Flexipay change for school fees paying customers?
FlexiPay gives school fees paying customers the ability to pay and their school fees securely and conveniently using either Stanbic’s digital payment solution, Mobile Money or the bank branch. FlexiPay simplifies life because it can be used anywhere anytime, from your mobile phone. This means school fees paying customers will no longer have to queue up at bank branches at the beginning of every term allowing them to focus on more important things like ensuring the child is actually ready and fully prepared for school.
What other advantages are there besides avoiding the queue in the banking hall?
Beyond the convenience of being able to make payments from anywhere thus eliminating unnecessary transport costs, parents or guardians are also able to make real savings in terms of money because the solution comes at very affordable charges and to our customers, there is no extra charge. It thus costs nothing at all! To give an example; there are no school fees bank charges incurred by our Stanbic customers who will make payments using our *290*1# short code for mobile money based payments and Online Banking platforms. Users are also assured of secure payments, as FlexiPay verifies each student and school before making a payment and they receive an instant confirmation of payment with all details (School & Student name, Amount paid) on their mobile phone with a unique payment number for future reference.
The school, on the other hand, gets the benefit of being immediately notified when a student payment is made. In addition the system allows for automated reconciliations of collections which helps eliminate forgeries and reduce on wasteful administrative costs such as paperwork. Lastly FlexiPay supports the overall management function by allowing the school to generate collection reports such as individual student statements and debtor lists.
Where can customers access FlexiPay?
FlexiPay is currently available on MTN Mobile Money *290*1#, our branches and next year on Mobile Banking *290# and Online Banking. We have also planned to enable other channels in 2017 to receive school fees such as web E-Commerce and Visa-enabled Point Of Sale machines (POS). In future, we also intend to provide this solution on our ATMs.
How does a school sign up to FlexiPay and how much does it cost?
First of all the school needs to sign a standard FlexiPay agreement with the bank (in most cases with the branch manager where the account is held). The bank will then go ahead to register the school on the FlexiPay platform. The designated school administrator will then receive an automated email with guidelines on how to access and use Stanbic FlexiPay. The School Admin manager can if necessary create other internal users with different roles for ease of management. Each student is assigned a unique student number by the school. Parents and guardians can thereafter start paying school fees using any of the Stanbic channels or Mobile Money.
How is the school protected against fraud or the mistakes by users?
We have put in place a robust and secure system with inbuilt safety mechanisms that ensure the FlexiPay platform can only be accessed by the authorized persons. Our payment solutions operate in a secure, session-based environment and the functionality offered is in line with the security requirements and global standards of mobile banking platforms. To that end each user is assigned credentials (passwords, usernames) with different roles and functionalities; audit logs are also available as an oversight tool to track the actions of all users of the system.
Is any user training necessary for one to use the backend of FlexiPay?
The bank offers training free of charge and technical support all the way through till users within the school are comfortable with it and able to navigate the system with ease.One of the other major benefits of FlexiPay is its being simple and user friendly.
Digital technology is becoming a default cost reduction and improved service delivery tool for Stanbic, what more should customers expect as 2017 approaches?
Our innovations are placing Stanbic at the forefront of digital banking in Uganda. Our customers can access any of the bank’s ATMs to deposit and withdraw cash, or use their mobile phones to access real-time banking services through the App or Mobile banking (*290#). Our Corporate and Business Banking customers can now run their business finances using their laptops, smart phones or tablets with online banking, Enterprise Online or Business Online. If you have an ATM card, we offer Point of Sale machines at almost all major retail premises (restaurants, hotels, supermarkets etc.) for your cashless purchases. For the unbanked, Stanbic’s Instant Money services allow customers to send money from their Stanbic Bank account to any mobile phone.
In 2017, our focus will be on enhancing the existing capability across these digital solutions and we will also focus on enhancing the security of our platforms even further.