As digital meal payments increasingly become the norm in more districts each year, education leaders and families are also discovering the benefits of going cashless for all payments and fees—whether one-time or recurring. Cashless schools provide an easier way to facilitate prompt payments, and families gain confidence in knowing their payment went through without being lost or forgotten.
In this blog post, we look at going cashless and how schools can enhance payment security with a digital solution.
What is a cashless payment system for schools?
A digital payment system enables a district to go cashless. Today’s households expect to be able to make transactions without requiring cash: As of 2022, 86% of point-of-sale transactions are made with either a card or digital wallet.1 A modern K‑12 payment solution can handle a wide range of transactions, such as meal payments, club dues, yearbook purchases, and library fees
With a cashless system, families either access a secure website portal or download a mobile device app to make payments from anywhere. A K‑12 digital payment system lets them save their payment information so they can complete transactions in a few clicks or taps.
Schools have unique needs for a payment system, so they typically prefer a solution built specifically for education rather than trying to make another system work, like PayPal or Venmo. An app or solution built for schools should come ready-made for processing, logging, and sending alerts for meal payments, school fees, club dues, and sports payments.
How does going cashless improve security for schools?
Going cashless means no more lost or damaged cash and checks. It’s easy for bills to get crumpled or forgotten at the bottom of a backpack, and checks can easily slip out of a notebook pocket or become damaged, torn, or accidentally thrown away. Check payments also expose bank account data.
Additionally, paper forms that often accompany payments—like field trip permission slips or club membership forms—include student data that’s also hitching a ride to school. From the sidewalk to the bus stop and all the way to the main office, there are plenty of places along the way for sensitive data to go astray.
Digital payments provide a safer alternative by encrypting payment information and keeping student data secure in the cloud. LINQ Connect, for example, relies on industry-leading cybersecurity to ensure digital payment security. Credit card companies also offer fraud protection to card holders, adding an additional layer of assurance.
Families also enjoy added certainty that payments are used toward the intended purpose, rather than a few dollars going into the vending machines instead of healthy lunch snacks. LINQ Connect makes it easy to check purchase history at any time, including detailed meal account records.
Other benefits of a cashless payment system for schools
Cashless payments make life easier for families, students, and school staff. Forgotten lunch money no longer means leaving work to deliver it to school—a student’s meal account can be funded from anywhere a parent or guardian has internet access.
For school staff, cashless payments mean no carrying a cash bank, making change, or writing paper receipts. Secure digital transactions mean everyone can focus more time and energy on learning, healthy meals, and the extra-curricular activities that help students thrive.
Going cashless can also benefit club fundraisers and school merchandise sales. Purchases aren’t limited to cash on hand, and club organizers aren’t responsible for transporting cash and checks safely to the bank. People in the community can also make cashless purchases, even if they don’t currently have students attending the school. Digital payments enable higher sales while eliminating stress around banking and accounting.
How to transition your school’s payment systems to cashless
Making the switch to online payments doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Many schools and districts choose a phased approach, often starting with meal payments. Once families, students, and staff realize the simplicity of a cashless school lunch experience, they’re more likely to become your biggest advocates for a completely cashless school payment system.
Here’s how to start making the transition:
1. Consider your district’s payment goals first.
Start where you are. Whether your goal is to implement your first digital payment solution or expand on current capabilities, establish a clear set of milestones. Either use the benefits listed above to pitch a school-specific payments solution to school leaders and families or highlight the improvements you’ve seen from transactions you’re already processing digitally.
2. Choose a school payment software with multiple options.
Everyone loves flexibility. Choosing a digital payment solution that offers secure, flexible payment options helps get buy-in and simplifies adoption. Ensure that the payment solution you choose enables at least the most basic range of payment options like credit cards, debit cards, and ACH payments. Options for additional flexibility include PayPal, Venmo, and other online payment system integration.
3. Select a provider that specializes in schools.
Schools and districts face unique challenges, and it pays to partner with a provider who understands that. In addition to getting the payment features and flexibility you need, you’ll also have the ongoing support and training for staff members necessary to ensure an easy transition and continued success. Of course, industry-leading security is non-negotiable as a payment solution for schools must first and foremost keep student and family data safe and secure.
Make life easier for families with digital payments
It’s easy to understand why people choose digital forms of payments for nearly everything these days—from meals and household staples to craft items at the local farmer’s market. It’s just an easier, more secure way of doing business. You can give your school community the same convenience and sound security with a digital payments solution like LINQ Connect.
Learn more about how our digital payment solution can make life easier for your families this school year.