We hear a lot of buzz about e-government and digital government – especially in relation to how they help cities deliver services to citizens more effectively. But at the recent Council-sponsored Smart Cities Now forum in New York, Aldis Levalds painted a compelling picture of how e-government services also benefit the city in compelling ways.
Levalds is Business Development Director with Toronto-based Imex Systems, a Council Associate Partner. Imex offers a range of e-government services, including its multi-channel service delivery system known as iGov. One component of iGov is the Imex iPay payment engine.
Levalds highlighted multiple ways cities benefit via digital payment solutions such as online payments through a web interface or mobile payments through smart phones. Among them:
- Two-way smart payments help streamline money in, money out, reducing the cost of paperwork and check processing. For example, governments receive electronic payments from citizens – taxes, fees for services, fines, etc. They can also use smart payments to disburse social benefits or to pay suppliers.
- Centralized payments can be a solution to the silo problem many cities face, where every department is doing its own PCI compliance and tracking overall costs is difficult.
- Digital wallets, which can be loaded with a user's dollars, credit and loyalty points and swiped at point of sale, as well as pre-paid credit cards can help cities reduce the cost and labor involved in check handling and bank deposits. Levalds notes digital wallets are proving very popular in developing countries.
- Public-private partnership is a way for cities to reap the benefits of extending electronic payments and internal efficiencies -- at no cost -- by implementing a user-pay model that involves transaction or convenience fees that go to the vendor to recover their investment.
More on smart payments…
White paper: Self-funded public-private partnership model for citizen services delivery
Digital commerce: the foundation of smarter cities