Collections Convenience

05/15/2017
Everyone is always crunched for time, so if courts make payments more convenient it stands to reason they may collect more revenue. That seemed to be the case for Delaware courts when they installed an automated payment system. In 2012 they first implemented kiosks to take payments for probation and parole. When it became clear the devices were secure, easy to use and reduced court expenditures, according to Ronny Park, VP for Payment Services with TouchPay, the company that installed them, other jurisdictional courts added their accounts to the same kiosks and most of the kiosks were moved to more central locations at DMVs.

Delaware Child Support payments were added to those kiosks in 2015. Now the kiosks are more accessible and take payments for traffic citations, court fines and fees, child support, and the Department of Correction. Before being added to the kiosks, no cash child support payments were accepted in Delaware and there was only a single cashier’s window in the state. Now child support can be paid in cash or with credit and debit cards at the seven kiosk locations statewide.

The kiosks have brought in increased revenue each year since being implemented. For the last three years, FY 2014 to FY 2016, the number of transactions has doubled each year, and the amount collected has gone from $40,000 to more than $160,000. Delaware is now in the process of installing kiosks in 24-hour courts, according to Park. And it could continue to climb. It has the capability to accept other payments such as utility fees or even payments for agencies in other states if all parties involved agreed.

William DiBartola, collections administrator with the Delaware Office of State Court Collections Enforcement, is pleased with the results. “The GTL/TouchPay kiosks have allowed our State Courts, and some sister state agencies, to expand our public accessibility without placing additional burdens on already strained resources. The ease of convenience as a one-stop payment center for many Delaware Judiciary, Department of Correction, and Delaware Division of Child Support Services commitments at Division of Motor Vehicles locations throughout Delaware has been a positive experience,” he says. He adds they continue to look for ways to expand the services.

From Standard to Custom
Olea Kiosks, Inc., based in Cerritas, California, designs and manufactures custom kiosks. Its products are used for casino gaming, check-in, government, health care, higher education, hospitality, retail, ticketing and wayfinding. Govern-ment/civic projects include Orange County, Florida, and a growing deployment with the Arizona Department of Transportation, where they deploy cash-accepting kiosks. Their kiosks also are used by governmental agencies such as the TSA, where their kiosks for CLEAR expedite travel for hundreds of thousands of customers, and their kiosks for international customs for Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport expedite arriving passengers.

The company, now in its fourth decade with a third-generation family member at the helm, has a strong basis in innovation, client collaboration and intelligent design, says Frank Olea, CEO. He says they have a powerful line-up of standard kiosks but when asked to customize “excel when given the opportunity to start from a blank sheet of paper.”

Olea’s kiosk/payment system comprises several options for customers. “First, we partner with leading providers of swipe and dip card readers to enable the kiosks to accept debit and credit remuneration,” explains Olea. He furthers that many payment companies are beginning to catch up with EMV regulations, a technical standard for smart payment cards (“chip cards”) and for payment terminals that accept them. As companies struggle to adhere to the standard, Olea can help them not only with card-reading technology, but recommendations on processing options and more. “We’ve developed some real expertise here,” he states.

Kiosks are great at collecting money, and because they are, the businesses and agencies that deploy them benefit from improved cash flow, Olea points out. One of the reasons is convenience. If a kiosk is placed in a central location, a customer can “make quick work of satisfying his bill with either cash, cards or perhaps even check,” he says. He states that “we use only the best cash acceptors in our kiosks because a large portion of the population—such as in judicial settings—may prefer to pay with good, old-fashioned greenbacks.”

Another reason for their convenience, he furthers, is that the kiosk can be programmed always to ask for other payments if the need for one arises during part of a larger transaction. “Let’s say a customer goes into a DMV to pay a speeding ticket,” describes Olea. “If he also has an outstanding parking ticket, the kiosk will take the time to ask for payment of it, too. Sometimes busy clerks are tempted to keep transactions as simple as possible, and that’s not helpful to the officials in charge of collections.”

The Latest Payment Methods
SlabbKiosks has been designing and manufacturing interactive, self-service kiosks and digital signage for over 20 years in North America, Europe and Asia.  The Las Vegas company has produced and installed “highly customized kiosks to our customers’ specifications and offer one of the fastest turnaround times in the industry,” they report. Their solutions are used in various industries including health care, micro-markets, government (corrections and educational institutions), retail, hospitality and others, and are used in multiple court locations across 14 states. Their recent acquisition of Phoenix Kiosk and RedDotNet “has allowed us to widen the solutions we provide for courts, prisons and parole management that assist with administrative management and receipt of payments,” notes Kisha Wilson, marketing manager.

Services that Slabb provide courts are court docket display, probation check in, jury check in/check out (one of the turnkey solutions provided by Phoenix’s solution), as well as full payment collections for bills, fines, license fees and restitution.
Slabb provides the most up-to-date electronic payment technologies available, Wilson explains. “As part of the Ingenico Group’s Unattended Partner Program, we can offer our clients the latest payment methods, including EMV, NFC, and mobile wallets such as Apple Pay and Android Pay. These can also be integrated with loyalty and business applications.”
The payment kiosks are versatile. “[They] can stand alone or be integrated with existing court systems used for payment collection,” Wilson points out. “For example, the kiosk can be tied into the court’s probation system (restitution payments), jury system (jury service and mileage payments), as well as collecting bills, fines, and other license fees. We can provide payment processing services or connect with the court’s preferred payment processor.” Cash, checks, money orders, debit and credit cards are all supported payment options.

Suite of Payment Channels
TouchPay Holdings dba GTL Financial Services provides automated payment services to government agencies including courts, municipalities, child support agencies (as noted above), and corrections. “Our Lobby Kiosk is the cornerstone of our suite of payment channels and is produced to our specifications by Kiosk Information Systems (located in the Denver area),” says Lisa Steffel, director of Payment Services, TouchPay/GTL Financial Services. TouchPay was acquired by Global Tel*Link in December 2014 and continues to provide services under the TouchPay name in the government space.
As all of the channels in its comprehensive system, payments to the Lobby Kiosk are captured in real-time and immediately available to authorized users on the secure reporting platform. All accepted payments are guaranteed to the court and TouchPay handles all the kiosk installation, maintenance, cash collection, accounting, training, IT support, marketing, and customer service.

TouchPay’s comprehensive suite of payment services enables consumers to have multiple convenient payment options with a consistent payment process, and integrated, real time reporting. “We are licensed for money transmission in every state and are PCI compliant at the highest level. Our turnkey payment system eliminates cash management and reporting headaches for the court and adds convenience and satisfaction for payers,” furthers Steffel.

“In addition to our state-of-the-art Lobby Kiosk, we provide an online payment portal, an IVR toll-free phone system, a patent pending Countertop Terminal and Walk-In Retail, which allows consumers to pay in cash locally. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive system that maximizes the payment options for consumers so that they will make more payments,” says Steffel.

More payments are the end-goal, of course. By the end of April 2017, TouchPay will have installed kiosks to take California Department of Child Support Services payments in 79 counties in the state. Many of the counties that have Lobby Kiosks taking utility or corrections payments are considering cross-purposing their kiosks with the local child support agency for additional kiosk availability for payers and depositors. Added convenience reduces agency costs and multiplies the amount collected.  

Keith Benton, TouchPay’s Director of Government Payments sums it up: “With more than 500 kiosks installed, TouchPay’s Lobby Kiosks have proven that they always protect data and currency, have an industry-leading 99.999% uptime record of service, accept bills in all denominations and can accommodate multiple agencies on the same machine. Best of all, we guarantee every accepted payment and there is no fee to the court when mutually agreed minimum transaction volumes are met.”

Overall, kiosks have proven they improve performance in collecting payments for courts. In a 2014 study of another TouchPay installation in Marin County, California, a year-over-year comparison of the first three months after the installation of the kiosks compared to the same time period the year previous showed that the number of transactions “increased from 368 to 533 (45% growth),” according to Steffel. At the same time, “cash collections grew from $97,150 to $176,190 (an 81% increase).”

Likewise Slabb’s Wilson points out that its customers not only benefit from the convenience of a self-service option, “but it is also an option that is highly utilized by the unbanked and underbanked. They can access services including making payments via the kiosk that they could not have otherwise through traditional avenues, such as banks, payment centres, etc.,” she notes.

Those benefiting from kiosks are definitely two-fold. She furthers: “Many of the benefits listed are experienced by the end users, but our clients—the businesses/institutions that provide the kiosk services, also benefit, as their operational costs are reduced. The implementation of a kiosk solution also frees up front office/customer-facing staff, allowing them to be placed in other departments that may have heavier workloads.”  CT


 

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