What is a Digital Wallet? And Why Your School District Needs to Adopt the Technology

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The 2021-22 school year is now underway, and we are well into the 21st century. The digital revolution, which marked a move from analog electronic and mechanical devices to the digital technology available today, began more than 40 years ago. And a much more efficient means of handling expenditures—digital wallets—first came on the scene more than 20 years ago.

So why is it that the majority of school districts across the country still force their teachers to do things the old-fashioned way? They have to either secure a purchase card or pay expenses themselves then get reimbursed. If they do the latter, they then need to fill out expense reports, submit receipts for their expenses, secure approvals—often from multiple people—and then wait several weeks to get paid back. The reason things are still done the way they were in the last century is likely because the School District’s management doesn’t realize there is a better way. A lack of knowledge about digital wallets is likely standing in the way.

Well, it’s time to remove that barrier with a little education about the technology. First, a definition. According to Investopedia, the world’s leading source of financial content on the web, a digital wallet (or e-wallet) is a software-based system that securely stores a user’s payment information and passwords for numerous payment methods and websites. By using a digital wallet, users can complete purchases quickly and easily.

The first use of a digital wallet happened in 1994 when 21-year-old entrepreneur Dan Kohn sold a CD over the internet via credit card payment. The first mobile payments and first contactless payments were made three years later. In 1997, Coca-Cola installed two vending machines in Helsinki, Finland that accepted payment via text message.

Today, some of the better-known digital wallets in use are ApplePay, Google Wallet, Samsung Pay, Venmo, and Walmart Pay. These platforms primarily serve what would be considered a Business to Consumer or B2C audience.

In recent years there has been a huge investment by the payments community to create digital wallets for business customers, a Business to Business or B2B audience, as well. One popular use is to provide a cheaper, not to mention faster, way to collect funds overseas than the use of wires. Another is to make the payment and reimbursement process a whole lot easier.

State and local education agencies utilize ClassWallet to distribute funds to teachers, families, schools, and maintenance staff quickly and easily using secure, web-based software. Among the many benefits of switching from paper to a digital platform to handle reimbursements, no more lost receipts, better accountability, and improved efficiency. Not to mention finance officers are provided with sophisticated oversight, reconciliation, and reporting tools. More than 3,600 schools in 20 states and 13 state education agencies are now saving time and money using the ClassWallet platform, including Miami-Dade Public Schools in Florida. “We are a $5 billion a year organization and we need a large, complex tool to manage our large, complex organization, so we use Class Wallet,” said Ron Steiger, Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ Chief Budget Officer.

“The teachers order a lot of supplies, and you can end up with a purchase order having 40 or 50 pages of documentation. That is too much to manage for the teacher and it takes away from the classroom instruction. So to simplify that process, ClassWallet will digitize all those receipts. It’s available for anyone to review at the click of a button, and it doesn’t take away from classroom instruction,” said Mobile County Public Schools in Mobile, Alabama.

“Teachers absolutely feel more empowered using this system. If they need something for a lesson in a week, no more waiting to get approvals for a purchase. They can go online, make a purchase and have it delivered, or they can go get

it themselves and have it reimbursed within a week. I’ve received emails from quite a few teachers who are using the platform. They are very happy to be able to impact their classroom in a matter of days rather than a matter of months,” said Lisa Loop, Senior Director of Fiscal Services for the Mountain View School District in Claremont, California.

“With ClassWallet you never have to collect a piece of paper, manually cut a check or manually enter data or reconcile any types of these transactions again,” added Rosenberg.

Among the leading K12 education vendors that have integrated and accepted ClassWallet as a form for payment include : Amazon, Scholastic, Home Depot, Office Depot, Lakeshore Learning, and Blick Art Materials to name a few.

Whether your district needs to improve efficiency in the accounting department, prepare for an audit, or do a better job of keeping track of funds earmarked for a particular program, ClassWallet’s platform is a solution worth implementing.