Software development is ongoing at Haven Systems and we are pleased to announce the release of a completely new Cashless Payment Portal that will be live in August 2017.

As the demand for cashless payments increases in both the education and the business and industry sectors, a quick and easy method for users to top up their account balance is essential.

Organisations who use Haven Systems cashless EPOS whether they be a school, college, university or business will be able to offer ‘on-line’ top ups through the portal that can be themed to match existing logo design and corporate branding. The portal is optimized to run on any modern browser and is mobile friendly so that users can bookmark or save as a short cut on their mobile device.

Authorised users; staff, students, parents or employees can create an on-line account that is authenticated via a secure unique reference number associated with their cashless account.  A ‘parent’ account may be created and then linked to multiple child accounts so that sibling accounts can be managed in the same session.  Multiple ‘purses’ can be set up so that, for example, course fees may also be paid online.

Once the account is created, users can log in and associate their Google and, or Facebook account as an additional method of account authentication. The cashless account balance is updated instantly so that once logged in a simple view displays the current balance of each user assigned to the account.

A history of each transaction and individual items purchased as part of the total purchase are detailed so that parents can see an audit trail of what their child has purchased.

The portal uses secure payment methods including Barclays and Worldpay with more payment options to follow. Additional functionality, specifically for the education sector will be included in future versions of the new cashless payment portal.

It’s not a case of ‘one solution fits all’ and there are still some users who prefer not to pay on line. Therefore, alternative methods of account top up will continue to be available to ensure managing account balances is an efficient process.  Revaluation kiosks will soon have new card payments options in the form of ‘unattended contactless payments’ as an additional payment method.

The question of how to improve the take up of free school meal entitlement is a real challenge for some schools and further education colleges.

In 2013, It was announced that all infant school pupils in state funded schools will be eligible for a free school meal from September 2014. Disadvantaged students at sixth form colleges and further education colleges were also to become eligible for free school meals from September 2014.

Since the introduction of the policy in 2014, there have been changes along the way with the youngest pupils in the first three years of primary education to no longer receive a free meal in England with differing policies in Wales and Scotland.

In further education colleges, disadvantaged students will continue to be entitled to a daily allowance at a rate equivalent to £2.41 per student per meal for the academic year 2017 to 2018. However, research shows that a lack of take up of the free meal entitlement in some cases is associated with peer effect and the fear of being stigmatised. This is a real problem, not only for students who miss out on an entitlement, but also for the school or college in terms of their effectiveness in administering the scheme. 

In order to increase the take up of free meal entitlement, making the process anonymous is a key factor.  Administration of the scheme should be invisible and not differentiate between those entitled to free meals and those who are not.

Haven Systems cashless EPOS seamlessly handles all transactions whether a free meal entitlement or not as the daily credit forms part of a total or existing balance. If a transaction value exceeds the daily free meal entitlement then the balance will be deducted from other funds on a student account. Unlike 'tokens', the daily allowance may be spent in increments so that the total entitlement is not depleted in a single transaction if the value of a purchase is less that the £2.41 per day.

Colleges can take advantage of standard technology so that an existing Mifare card may also be used as a cashless catering card. Options to use biometric fingerprint recognition as a means of account authentication are also available as part of the system.

Implementing education EPOS systems can deliver a solution that helps to improve the take up of free meals and provides a convenient and easy way for students, parents and staff to ‘top up’ online via the cashless payment portal. Maximum daily spend limits mean that parents can top up their child’s account safe in the knowledge that daily spend is controlled.

Cashless reports and analytics provide management teams with great insights into spend patterns and the take up of free meal entitlement. Individual transactions are recorded in the cashless payment portal with itemised products purchased, parents can see what their child is purchasing on their account.

Account balances and transaction details are held centrally with a failover in case of network issues. As the card does not store the account balance, lost cards can be cancelled as soon as notification is received.

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