Southern Housing (formerly Optivo) has implemented seamless payment services for its residents with support from Manifest Software Solutions and PayPoint Housing.
Southern Housing residents now have more options available when making payments. The service enables customers registered with Southern Housing’s My Account to make payments seamlessly within the My Account portal while having access to near-real-time rent statements. For customers not subscribed to the portal, PayPoint Housing has a range of other digital channels as well the ability to pay in cash in any of PayPoint’s 28,000 retail points across the UK.
Southern Housing implemented PayPoint Housing as its payment partner in 2022, with Manifest Software providing its Universal Adapter integration platform to interact with PayPoint’s APIs and notification services. This combination provides near-real-time data flows, updating Southern Housing’s back-office system as soon as payments are made.
At the end of 2022, Optivo and Southern Housing Group merged to form Southern Housing, creating a new housing provider with 77,000 homes. Before the merger and as a driver for implementing PayPoint as its payment partner, Optivo’s residents had asked for a more dynamic payment solution so that residents’ online payments could be processed faster and updated in the residents’ portal.
In its journey to become more digital and to enable self-service, Optivo needed to take payments faster and show residents their accurate and up-to-date rent accounts. Residents expect their payments to be updated immediately, so they can manage their funds and settle any rent arrears as soon as possible.
PayPoint sends confirmation that payments have been made to the Manifest Universal Adapter, and these are received and posted into MRI/Orchard as transactions. On the PayPoint system, an event is triggered in the internal processing system, with triggers configured by Optivo’s IT team to send the data to Manifest. Details of the resident who made the payment, the amount they paid and the method they used to pay are all included in the notifications. This information is then processed by the Universal Adapter, enabling Optivo to analyse payments received via the app, web/MyAccount, telephone and retail, including cash paid over the counter, recurring card and Pay-by-Link payments.
Manifest Software created a payment iFrame which was embedded into MyAccount. This is seamless to residents, enabling secure payments to be made via the familiar MyAccount website. The new iFrame replaced the legacy payment functionality so residents can still go to the same page as before, minimising disruption and maintaining familiarity.
Robert Stewart, head of design and development, Southern Housing, said, “Manifest Software has been the glue, working with us and PayPoint in a strong joint development. We did the stress testing internally, with Manifest Software writing the iFrame and our team then thoroughly testing it.”
Manifest Software developed a solution allowing residents to see their real-time balance within the customer portal using PayPoint’s real-time event streamer. Manifest Software also wrote an additional process to reconcile all real-time transactions with end-of-day files and flagging any additional transactions that didn’t come via the real-time event streamers during the day.
Jonny Guy, implementation manager, Manifest Software Solutions, said, “PayPoint’s extensive APIs enables us to build fully-integrated solutions for our customers. Optivo had a clear vision and a strong team which kept the project on-track and ensured this project would be a success.”
Vicky Lynch, strategic sector and partnerships lead, PayPoint Housing, said, “Residents now have a streamlined payment journey, which is seamlessly embedded in the portal, whereas residents used to be passed out to a third-party payment page.”
In the past, it could take three or four days for residents’ payments to appear on MyAccount but now payments can appear within 10 minutes.
Heather Draper, product owner, Southern Housing, said, “After deciding to make it easier for residents to make payments via our self-service portal, we commissioned a payment iFrame from Manifest Software, using PayPoint’s MultiPay platform. This is a much better user journey and keeps our residents within our portal, making it easier for them to complete their transactions with us. Another benefit is the resident no longer needs to enter their payment reference number because of the built-in integrations.”
Stewart said, “Moving from 24 hours to less than 30 minutes for account updates is significant. This provides a more transparent, accurate service for our residents. We can now check on the same day as someone has paid their rent whether our systems have been updated. This means we’re not spending time chasing payments that have already been made and our residents have more certainty that their rent has been paid.”