As consumers begin to use cellphones and smartphones for more every day activities, including accessing the internet and conducting personal business, it only makes sense that consumers should be able to make payments with their iPhones and iPads as well. Over the past few years, mobile payment processing technology has become an attractive concept for reducing the complexity of making and receiving payments. Now, the popularity of the technology has received an additional boost from the government agencies that have adopted the technology as a viable payment method.
The popularity of mobile payment technology is growing as the number of smartphones in use increases across the nation. Over the past three years, the number of payments for government services made using mobile devices has doubled each year. Nationally, nearly 27% of households report that they are cellphone-only households. The State of Arkansas has the highest concentration of these households, reporting a concentration of 35%, according to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Arkansas created a plan to strategically use the data in the CDC study to invent a number of new mobile-friendly services that could be operated on various smartphone operating platforms. In addition to creating new apps and providing mobile information, creating a way to implement mobile payments for state agencies was high on the list of tasks to accomplish. Focusing on being able to move to mobile apps and payments easily required a lot of work on the part of the programmers, but the end result is better than many expected.
Arkansas recently became the first state to offer smartphone users the ability to process payments for e-government services with secure mobile payment technology. The mobile payment services rolled out can be used to add money to inmate trust accounts, make payments for property taxes, or pay fees for restitution or probation and parole supervision. If the rollout in Arkansas proves to be successful, it could change the way the country accepts payments for services in the future.
The inmate deposit service is currently the most used mobile payment service since the implementation of all three services. The deposit service gives the friends and family members of inmates the ability to make deposits into an inmate’s prepaid phone account or Department of Correction-managed trust securely in real time using their mobile phone. Offenders supervised by the Department of Community Correction can easily make their payments for monthly supervision, court fees or restitution fees using the Probation and Parole Supervision and Restitution mobile payments system. Property owners in Pulaski County, Arkansas’ largest county, can use the recently released property tax payments system to pay real estate and personal property taxes via their mobile devices.
The early adoption of information technology was one of the keys to successfully creating the mobile payment technology now in use in Arkansas. A board-led, public-private collaboration between the state and the Arkansas Information Consortium, called the Information Network of Arkansas, was enlisted to help the state government entities create effective Web-enabled information services that could be properly viewed on mobile devices. A secure back-end payment system was created to use with the new mobile portals that were designed for the agencies, ensuring a smooth transition to mobile payments for the state.
It is believed that using mobile payments can increase the speed and convenience of accepting payments. By providing people with more alternative ways to pay, the amount of revenue collected by anyone who implements this into their business is predicted to increase. Now that they have been implemented, the citizens of Arkansas are encouraged to explore the new services and test their functionality.