3 minute read
Simplifying International Payments with Tulane University
Guiding international students through account payments can be tricky. With currency exchange rates constantly changing, it can be difficult for students to be confident they are paying the correct amount. On this episode of FOCUS, Mike Pilman, System Administrator for the Account Receivables Office at Tulane University, joins us to give insight on how Tulane works with TouchNet and TransferMate to simplify payments for international students while improving administrative processes for their staff and protecting the institution against fraud.
About Tulane University
Tulane University was founded in 1834 in New Orleans as the Medical College of Louisiana. Today, the university is a private research institution with 14,500 students across ten undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools. Ten percent of the school’s population are international, coming from 90 countries. Pilman says that the institution is looking to expand its international population, particularly in graduate degree programs.
Issues with cross-border payments
With so many international students from so many different countries, the common issues with international payments would add up for Tulane and cause administrative issues. Students are not only unfamiliar with U.S. banking systems, but also with calculating currency exchange rates with ever changing market rates. This led to incorrect payment amounts, delayed payments, and payments with no student account information included. The combination of issues left a lot of work for the accounts receivable team to manually fix and reconcile. Tulane needed a solution to automate their processes and found it in TransferMate.
Tulane first began working with TransferMate 11 years ago to support cross-border payments which helped tremendously with backend reconciliation. But it wasn’t until they transitioned to using the integration between TransferMate and TouchNet that they saw the biggest change. Through this integration, students are able to initiate payments with TransferMate directly in their Student Account Center.
The embedded solution includes a currency exchange calculator that converts the student’s payment amount from US dollars to the equivalent in their local currency. The student completes the details of the transaction within their account and then pays TransferMate according to instructions provided. TransferMate then handles all the details of the currency exchange, cash clearing, and the transmission of payment directly to Tulane. Students are able to access their account at any time to check the status of their payment and TransferMate offers 24/7 customer service.
Using TransferMate is now the preferred payment option for international students at Tulane. The embedded solution is easily adopted by students, which Pilman attributes to the integration with TouchNet Payment Center.
“Having it [TransferMate] embedded in the billing and payments portal, that really was the biggest factor,” says Pilman.
Tulane also provides general advice on TransferMate on their payment options webpage, which is listed on the Student Accounts Receivable and Office of International Students websites. They also talk to students about it during orientation to make sure every international student knows about it.
Helping more than just students
Aside from international students, TransferMate alleviated many stressors for the accounts receivable staff. Before, staff had to manually alter accounts with any issues. Now, problems with balances and reconciliation are automatically updated with TransferMate, giving staff more time to focus on student needs.
With TransferMate, the need for students to use bank wires has decreased significantly, which has strengthened Tulane’s cybersecurity. Previously, the institution had their bank wire information on their website for international students to use, leaving Tulane open to bad actors. They still offer wire transfers to students, but only need to give out their bank wire information upon request.
Simplifying international payments
In parting advice, Pilman recounts the benefit of going to higher education conferences and learning from other institutions who can serve as a model for your school. He believes that a more universal approach focused on making the payment process as easy as possible for students and payers is the first step in creating new paths for payments.