The UK's Government Digital Service (GDS) recently provided an insight into how far it has progressed with its plans to develop a unified payment service platform (PSP) as part of its approach to developing a common set of services. In addition to providing opportunities for payment service vendors, it will act as a trigger for public sector organizations to address their disjointed CRM landscape.
Government adoption of payment service platforms will act as a catalyst for CRM investment
It is easy to see why PSPs are a hot topic for governments at the moment. The fragmented nature of payments today creates huge duplication of effort and higher costs, and presents consumers with a confusing number of options. By migrating to a PSP and automating billing, invoicing, and transactional services, agencies are hoping to achieve service and cash flow improvements, and to lower transactional costs.
The recent update by the GDS on its plans for the PSP indicates that it is going further than simply offering a centrally managed platform to public sector organizations. It wants to provide detailed, real-time transactional information on citizens to front-line staff, helping them keep citizens better informed as to the status of their payments. It is also considering using the PSP to issue refunds back to the original cardholder in the case of errors or overpayments.
Given the adoption of mobile transaction tools, it is clear that citizens want simpler ways to pay for goods and services. This also holds true for public sector services. Many citizens would find it easier to pay fines, such as parking tickets or overdue library books, by simply logging on to their citizen record via the council's portal and clicking on the relative application. Alternatively, a citizen could receive an alert to an outstanding fine when within the vicinity of a council office, then simply go to the nearest office and swipe their phone.
Integrating payments with citizen customer records will be a key step toward achieving this. However, the problem is that most public sector organizations rarely have back-end systems to support such activity. The lack of CRM, or at least of a joined-up approach, stands in the way of public sector organizations being able to offer citizens a consolidated view of their transactions with agencies, leading to an increasing number of single-use applications being stood up.
The GDS-developed PSP will no doubt act as a catalyst for vendors of payment solutions, which will have a single point of entry into the UK public sector market for payment services. The greater opportunity, however, will come from the PSP acting as a catalyst for public sector organizations to address the question of how to establish a single view of the citizen.
"Government payments – setting the rules of the game," IT0007-000824 (July 2015)
Chris Pennell, Practice Lead, Public Sector