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Unified campus financial system brings order to previously scattered processes

TouchNet’s U.Commerce allows Weber State University to accept and manage payments from anywhere, anytime
University Business, December 2015
TouchNet’s U.Commerce allows Weber State University to accept and manage payments from anywhere, anytime
TouchNet’s U.Commerce allows Weber State University to accept and manage payments from anywhere, anytime

In the past, Weber State University processed payments according to what was purchased and where. So basketball tickets went through one system, bookstore purchases went through another, and lab fees still another.

Not only was it clunky on the front-end, but it made for tedious reconciliation on the back-end and a general feeling of chaos and inefficiency.

Today, virtually all payments—
whether done online, in the bursar’s office face-to-face or off-site—are processed through TouchNet Information Systems, which can handle everything from a tuition payment by check to a remote credit card swipe.

“It is so comprehensive, there are few, if any, payment challenges we can’t address,” says Michael Richter, Weber State’s bursar, who has slowly been adding components from the TouchNet family during his six years on the job.

With the latest addition of a mobile marketplace POS program, the northern Utah university of 26,000 students is well-positioned for a future of easy payments.

It all began with Payment Gateway, which allows the university to accept credit cards, electronic checks and campus cards to pay tuition and other expenses. Soon after came Bill+Payment, which gives students access to online billing, payments and deposits, as well as e-refunds and payment plans.

Richter says 90 percent of tuition and eCommerce payments are now made online. About 70 percent of refunds, typically from financial aid or loan overages, are processed electronically, eliminating the need for students to receive and cash checks to access funds.

And some 4,700 students now use payment plans, which were unavailable prior to TouchNet. With a choice of three- or four-month repayment periods, students determine their due date, an option particularly important if coordinating tuition payments with paycheck deposits, Richter says. Students also can add money to their account for bookstore purchases, which can then be spread out interest-free and repaid over time.

Marketplace allows different departments to create, manage and operate online storefronts, registration sites and secure payment pages. TouchNet works with Banner by Ellucian so deposits—which can be split into different accounts and separated by taxable or nontaxable income—are recorded properly into the university’s general ledger.

“With TouchNet we have the right tool for any job, whether it is eCommerce, face-to-face or a combination,” Richter says. “And everything integrates. It all feeds into the general ledger and makes reconciliation and management much easier.”

U.Commerce Central/Dashboard, the system’s financial management home page, provides a centralized view of all payments, campus-wide.

On-demand trainings are offered to Weber staff as necessary, but most components are intuitive, Richter says. Still, annual trainings are held in conjunction with cash management and PCI compliance sessions.

Richter hasn’t gotten much feedback on the TouchNet system, which to him is a win.

“The best evidence of success is we don’t hear anything,” Richter says. “Students are able to pay their bills, set up payment plans, purchase tickets or concessions at an athletic event, or navigate the website without any problems.”

For more information, visit www.touchnet.com

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