New system could let customers pay city utility bill with ‘plastic’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 26, 2015

New system could let customers pay city utility bill with ‘plastic’

By John Howell
The City of Batesville could begin accepting credit and debit card payments online and in person for utility bills and other services if it follows through on a Tuesday presentation by Wayne Belk of RB Financial Services.

Belk asked permission, during the Second Tuesday meeting of the city’s board of mayor and aldermen, to demonstrate to City Clerk Susan Berryhill an electronic payment system that calculates the actual cost of each debit/credit card transaction. He represents Bank Certified Payment Merchant Services that owns Noble Payment Technology “that connects purchasers online with the merchant or municipality’s processor.”

“Noble is the only payment gateway in the world that can calculate what a credit card or a debit card actually costs to process before the transaction is completed,” Belk said.

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“There’s about 600 different types of credit cards. Each one carries its own rate. Noble can calculate that rate and then it applies that as the convenience fee,” the financial services representative said.

Belk said that with other systems convenience fees are set at a pre-determined flat rate or pre-determined percentage of the transaction,
“The city or any municipality is not going to absorb the credit card or debit card processing fee,” Belk continued.

“Legally, we cannot pay that (convenience fee); that’s the reason we’re not accepting credit cards now. With this we can accept them,” Mayor Jerry Autrey said.

“There’s some advantages to taking credit/debit card payments,” Belk said. “This younger crowd, especially, a lot of them don’t even carry money, and they don’t even have a check. They like to use that debit card.

“If you had somebody out there facing a shutoff, say utilities. They didn’t have any money but they had a credit card with some limit on it where they could pay it,” Belk continued.

“How long — after we settle up in a day — how long does it take to get into the bank account?” Alderman Teddy Morrow asked.

“Same as any credit card … generally within 24 to 48 hours” Belk replied.

“What we can do is set up a hosted payments page on your web site with a drop down box and you could include any department in the city that wanted to collect payments online, and actually we could do that over the counter, too,” he said.

Following Belk’s presentation, the mayor and aldermen gave Berryhill the go-ahead to meet with Belk and evaluate the system.