Places for People has reported that it has completed the introduction of a PCI-compliant payment service in advance of the introduction of universal credit. The five-month project to run a hosted version of Civica’s Icon income management system was completed in August 2012.
The housing provider originally implemented an on-premise version of the Civica income management system five years ago in order to reduce the administrative burden of dealing with hundreds of payments and transactions every day from multiple sources and a variety of channels, with the payments coming in the form of cheques, cash, credit cards, direct debits and online payments. Furthermore, because Places for People held customer-sensitive data, it needed to comply with PCI-DSS regulations.
Jon Thomson, head of information management and technology, Places for People, said, “We process over £25 million a year through various payment channels, including a large number of credit and debit card transactions. This means that there are stringent regulations for the management and administration of the payment system.
“Maintaining PCI compliance demanded a great deal of effort from our IT security team – something we knew would increase further as the organisation expanded and the number of transactions increased.”
Places for People also wanted to get ready for the introduction of universal credit so decided to move to the hosted version of Civica’s Icon system to streamline many of the financial and administrative process as well as to share some of the compliance risk with Civica.
Thomson said, “Universal Credit is one of the biggest challenges we have had to face recently but by offering multiple payments channels for tenants, we are confident we can ease the adjustment to universal credit.”
“We enable our tenants to pay rent in the way they prefer, but we need to make sure they can pay at any time. The Icon hosted payment service is managed 24/7 and offers high availability, giving us confidence and peace of mind that every payment attempt will be successful.”
Laura Halliwell, income accounts receivable manager, Places for People, said, “All our monetary transactions go through Civica Icon and since its implementation, the flexibility of our payments platform has been greatly improved with no impact on customer service.”
As part of its plans for handling universal credit, the housing provider is in the process of integrating the housing benefit stream to the Civica system, a process which will involve digitising masses of documents.
Halliwell said, “Each week, housing benefit involves 500 printed pages and £1.9 million in revenues. However, many of the processes are currently being done manually, which is an incredible administrative burden that won’t be sustainable once universal credit is introduced.”