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Northumberland County Council goes unitary using Pay360’s payment solutions


Written by Editorial Team

Published May 2023

In this article...

Working closely with Pay360, Northumberland County Council offers citizens a range of convenient and highly secure payment options.

The Council delivers a range of services to the citizens of Northumberland that were formerly provided by the six district councils and the original county council that preceded its formation. The Council has a population of around 311,000, with around 135,000 domestic properties, around 9,400 businesses and takes housing payments for a stock of around 8,500 properties. 

An established and proven payments partner 

The Council were looking for a proven and established solution that would deliver extensive functionality, a highly secure card payment environment and a strong return on investment.

Pay360 offered a complete corporate payment solution at a highly competitive cost. Some of the key factors that led to their solution being selected were:

•     Card payments processed using Pay360’s PCI DSS Level 1 certified managed service, which would allow some of the Council’s responsibility for compliance with PCI DSS to be delegated to Pay360 and would deliver ultimate security around cardholder data
•     The range of convenient payment options was impressive and included support for payments over the counter, over the telephone to a member of contact centre staff or via the self-service options (available 24/7) of internet or automated telephone using speech recognition
•     Pay360’s Income Management system provided an ideal and highly configurable solution for handling the requirements for integration and reconciliation of multiple back-office systems with the central finance system
•     Pay360 was already providing payment solutions at three of the former district councils and feedback from these existing users was very positive

The citizen’s choice for payment options

Northumberland County Council went live with a range of Pay360’s Payment Management products including:

•     Counter Receipting for payments by cash, cheque or card (using Chip & PIN devices) at 10 cash offices around the County
• for contact centre staff to take mail order telephone order (MOTO) payments, where the cardholder supplies their card details, which are processed on their behalf by an authorised member of staff. The same product is also used for ‘second tier’ payments in locations such as libraries and tourist information centres for face-to-face card payments
•     Speech Recognition and Internet Payments allowing self-service payments via either automated telephone or online. The online solution is also used in Payment Portal form, integrated with a range of front-end options such as the system for managing garden waste bin collection
•     Income Management acts as the central repository for payment details, fund definitions, balances and interfaces, and is supported by a comprehensive range of reports

Working to tight deadlines, Pay360 provided the consultancy, project management, implementation and training on all of the products and provided a strong on-site presence during acceptance testing and immediately pre and post go-live.

Following the successful implementation, the range of payment options was extended with the introduction of integrated kiosk payments, which can be made by either card or cash.

Delivering considerable savings 

By encouraging self-service payments and allowing the citizen to make payments around the clock by either internet or automated telephone, the Council has seen a considerable saving in terms of staff time. This is when compared with processing payments face-to-face or where the citizen phones in with details.

The Council enjoys very competitive card processing rates by using the Pay360 service. This includes all fraud protection measures the banks require in order for a payment to be classed as ‘secure’, and the processing rates are markedly lower than was the case with the former district councils. With card processing taking place via Pay360’s managed service, there is no requirement for specialist on-site card processing software, hardware or infrastructure. With no on-site storage of cardholder data, there is a significant reduction in the Council’s liability in respect of PCI DSS, as the major elements of responsibility around security of data are passed to Pay360.

Citizens have been quick to take-up the self-service payment options. Excluding payments made by direct debit, around 10% of Council Tax payments are made via the internet and a further 4% by automated telephone. Looking to the future The Council are in regular dialogue with their Pay360 account manager and with the Pay360 solution constantly evolving, use of Pay360 products will soon extend to include additional products and services

The Council is also implementing Pay360’s Configuration Management System (CMS), which will allow designated members of staff to take control of the majority of the Council’s internet payments’ page content. Historically, any changes to configuration had been addressed by Pay360’s Configuration Management team. Now, the new system will provide the option to make configuration changes, manage the commitment of changes made and, where necessary, to either roll back to the previous version of the site configuration or even restore to an earlier version.

The Council is also keen to achieve direct integration between and its CRM system in order to streamline the payment process in the contact centres.

“Pay360 came highly recommended by the district councils that were existing users of their products and we were particularly impressed by the range of payment channels supported. We were keen to encourage our citizens to make use of the self-service payment options and, in doing so, to ensure that payments take place with security of cardholder data paramount. With an established PCI DSS certified managed service, the Pay360 solution has delivered on all fronts and brings with it a range of tangible benefits to the Council.” 

Neil Arnold, Infrastructure Manager, Northumberland County Council