How Government Agencies Can Overcome Security Challenges on the Path to Digital Payments


For some time, concerns about credit card fees and legacy processing infrastructure may have slowed government adoption of digital payment options. But this landscape is changing rapidly. Growing consumer demand for a more seamless online experience and a strong tech stack is helping government agencies move towards digital payments.

“The shift to digital payments has depended on technological maturity,” said Brittney Carlisle, vice president of payment operations for CSG Forte. “Smaller government organizations have explored their options, while those with a larger digital footprint are expanding the reach of digital payments to more departments or adding kiosks for contactless solutions.”

Zoom in a bit and we notice a bigger global movement towards digital payments. By the end of 2023, the industry is expected to grow by 40%. Almost 6.1 billion people worldwide will use this method in just two years.²

“Governments are contributing to this explosive growth,” says Carlisle.


“The move towards digital payments makes sense for government agencies,” says Sukanya Madhavan, vice president of product management and engineering at CSG Forte.

On the one hand, Madhavan says, “Our way of life has changed. Principals seek contactless experiences from all vendors. “

The contactless part of the equation may have taken center stage during the COVID-19 pandemic, but accepting digital payments also means providing convenience to the customer.

“When you give these options to voters, many more are going to make payments on time,” Madhavan points out. Governments are less frustrated with late fees and waste fewer resources resolving related voter complaints.

Offering digital payments also gives governments more data so they can create a more seamless experience and gain a holistic view of all their transactions. Voters can log into a portal and view any payments that may be due. They can also choose to opt for automated text reminders on payment dates.

Downstream, digital payments allow governments to devote less human resources to processing.

While digital payments may promise a seamless constituent experience and a path to modernization, there is one hurdle government agencies must overcome: security.


While consumers demand digital contactless payment solutions, they are also targeted by fraudsters.

60% of those polled in a Mastercard survey said they would think twice about doing business with a merchant that didn’t offer any electronic payment options

2020 saw a staggering 49% increase in cybercrime, according to the survey.³ As a result, governments face the same challenge as the private sector: how to increase digital payment options while ensuring the security of transactions and payments. constituent data.

Tight budgets and limited resources exacerbate security concerns and the increased risk of malware and ransomware for government agencies. “A lot of businesses don’t have a large computer network that they can operate,” Carlisle points out.

Despite these challenges, government agencies must find a solution. They must pay attention to safety in order to:

  • Ensure compliance with compliance measures. Payment card industry (PCI) and National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA) standards dictate how organizations should collect, store, and use sensitive constituent information. Any digital payment solution will need to check these boxes.
  • Maintain public confidence. The trust of constituents is directly linked to their sense of security in digital payment transactions. Paying attention to security will strengthen defenses and build and maintain voter confidence.

Government agencies should keep these strict security requirements in mind when looking for a digital payment solution.


“Government agencies are looking for partners to add [digital payment] feature that doesn’t require a huge investment on their part, ”explains Carlisle. A checklist of factors that an ideal digital payment solution should cover includes:

  • Have a safety mindset. The solution must comply with PCI and NACHA standards and enable end-to-end tokenization and encryption of the constituent transaction data, explains Madhavan. “Customers should need multi-factor authentication to further strengthen security and reduce fraud and friction. “
  • Be easy to use both front and back. “Agencies want a seamless end-to-end experience for their principals and a simple solution that their employees can use to reconcile accounts,” says Madhavan.
  • Allows seamless integration into the existing technology stack. “Several departments have specific software needs and need a payment processor that can easily integrate with any Integrated Software Provider (ISV) solutions they can operate,” explains Carlisle. “Plug-and-play functionality is essential because government organizations support multiple departments and constituents. A digital payment solution must therefore be implemented quickly so that end users, whether staff or voters, can adopt it easily. “
  • Possibility to include more types of digital payment solutions. “Ask if your solution is ready to go where the payments industry is, whether it’s Google Wallet or Apple Pay. Millennials in particular are looking for alternative and convenient payment options, ”says Madhavan. At the same time, the solution must make room for all the demographics and ensure that voters who prefer more traditional methods can still be accommodated.
  • Be personalized according to the needs of an organization. “If they want more advanced web integration options, the solution has to support them. If the organization does not have technical resources, a plug-and-play solution must be available, ”explains Carlisle. The ability to scale with digital maturity is essential.


In the years to come, expect more blurred lines between government and the private sector when it comes to digital payments. “With more inquiries about digital wallet options and even cryptocurrency, the new wave of digital payment solutions is going to have to make room for how voters want to make payments,” Carlisle said. .

“Voters want the Amazon experience everywhere,” she adds. And the government’s digital payment solutions strive to deliver the same experience.

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