Quick and convenient, cashless payments are now a big part of our everyday lives. For schools, it’s no different.
The use of cashless payments in day-to-day life has increased massively over the last decade, as advances in technology mean that it is now possible to pay by simply waving your debit or credit card, phone, or even your watch in the general direction of a card machine.
Ditching Cash Payments
In fact, recent research carried out by the Bank of England found that, by 2019, just 23% of payments were made using cash payments, down from nearly 60% of all transactions just a decade earlier.
And, with 50% of the population already operating as cashless, Britain is the least cash-reliant country in the whole of Europe.
This, alongside the popularity of online shopping and payments, means fewer people carry cash as standard — which in turn means less physical cash to use to pay for things such as school meals, trips or even uniforms.
Responding to this shift in attitudes, many schools have already embraced cashless solutions, and those who hadn’t already likely found even more reason to do so as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the UK.
The Impact of COVID-19
Due to cash changing hands frequently, studies have found that you can often find upwards of 19 different strains of bacteria living on banknotes. The influenza virus can even live on them for up to 17 days.
Because of this, the message to reduce cash use was quickly adopted by Britons, with many shops taking a ‘card only’ approach. Research carried out by LINK, the UK’s main cashpoint network, found ATM transactions fell by up to 68% in April 2020, when the UK went into its first national lockdown.
While withdrawals did see a slight uptake in later months, overall usage remained low, with £81bn withdrawn over the course of 2020, a fall of 30% on the previous year’s £116bn.
This is creating the perfect storm for schools. For those who aren’t currently cashless, there is more incentive than ever before to make the switch, while for those who are, the question is how do you make sure you pick the best solution for your schools?
Making the Move to Cashless with Biometrics
When it comes to making the move to cashless, biometrics has become a popular choice.
A core reason for this is the simplicity in the way they work; a scanner captures the fingerprint, and software then cross-references it with a pre-scanned template.
Not to mention the increasing familiarity among the general public.
And, as fingerprint scanning gives way to contactless facial recognition, the biometric principle remains as a core mechanism for pupil’s identity verification in cashless systems.
But any use of biometrics needs to be carefully considered. At its core, whether you’re using fingerprint or facial recognition technology, biometric verification requires the capture and storage of highly sensitive, personal data.
As a result, the onus is on the school to ensure correct data procedures are followed at all times, and data is secured to the highest standard. Even then, many parents may not be comfortable with the idea of their child’s biometric data being stored by their school, with some even suggesting that it could normalise surveillance.
This raises an important question. If the success of a cashless system hinges not only on technology and the effective management of data, but also the goodwill and support of parents, how do your schools strike the right balance?
The QR Alternative
Like biometrics, Quick Response (QR) codes have been in use for some time among the general public and have, in the last few years, seen a resurgence in popularity as they provided a quick and safe way for the public to engage and interact with crucial services.
And it’s no wonder. QR codes are flexible, adaptable and versatile; they don’t require perfect alignment to a camera, offer a simple and easy way to implement social distancing measures in schools and - most importantly - don’t require the collection or storage of sensitive data to use.
The codes work exactly like barcodes, and can be applied and used in multiple scenarios; from online payment methods, to cashless catering. Once scanned, data is transmitted in just a couple of seconds and, because of the way in which the codes store data, one single code can be used for multiple transactions.
It makes sense then that in today’s smartphone era, QR codes are starting to come into their own, even being touted as a potential new mainstream payment method.
So how do schools make QR work for them?
Pebble's cloud-based cashless catering POS system Till has a wide range of benefits for parents, students, teachers, and other staff members and suppliers, helping to bring a new and improved cashless system to your school.
Each child at your school will be provided with an account that can be topped up online thanks to our Parentpay integration. Easy to use, each account is assigned a personal QR code, which is issued on either a physical card or digitally through a mobile app, which can then be scanned for cashless payment. thanks to the iZettle contactless card reader .
Low cost and zero maintenance, this is a modern, secure, and easy point of sale for everyone, instantly reducing the need for cash on your school premises. It also prevents having to turn anyone away that wants to pay for services via mobile payment or debit card with our iZettle connection. Whether it’s for lunch, a trip or new school uniform you can choose the most convenient payment method for you.
If your trust, school or PTA is looking for an effective, single system to bring the full benefit of going cashless to your school, get in touch with the Pebble team today and discover the benefits that come with Till.
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