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Idaho mobile payments app cited as one of year’s top innovations

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December 30, 2014

otg_tablet_photo[7]_optIdaho’s government mobile payments application OntheGo was cited as one of 30 innovations that mattered in governmental administration in 2014, showing how mobile is increasingly making an impact on how government works.

Government-information and networking Web site GovLoop named OntheGo, which lets Idaho government entities capture credit and debit card payments anywhere with an Android smartphone or tablet, as having the potential to have a lasting impact on governmental operation. The app’s acclaim suggests that technology enthusiasts’ dream of mobile seamlessly linking government services to payments is becoming a reality.

“Currently, there are only four government departments using OntheGo,” said Rich Steckler, director of marketing for Access Idaho in Boise, ID. “However, we anticipate further adoption with the inevitable growth of mobile payment processing, thanks, in part, to the private sector embracing the technology.”

Payments anywhere
OntheGo is for Idaho state agencies, counties and cities to take payments in the field, at conferences and events, or wherever they need to collect funds outside the office.

Access Idaho, which administers Idaho’s official Web portal, Idaho.gov, and provides electronic government systems for the state, developed OntheGo for the secure processing of mobile payments, even when outside of Wi-Fi or cell coverage.

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Bringing mobile payments to government agencies.

The portal’s network manager is Idaho Information Consortium, a unit of NIC, a provider of government Web sites, online services and secure payment processing software for more than 3,500 United States federal, state and local agencies.

Downloadable for free from the Google Play Store, OntheGo is easy to use.

A government employee who launches the app on his or her Android mobile device begins by entering the payment amount. The system accepts American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa payments.

Next, he or she enters a payment comment – which could take the form of an invoice, an order, a license, a ticket number or a description.

The employee has an option of entering the customer’s email address where a receipt will be sent.

After that, the employee swipes a credit or debit card with an encrypted swipe card reader or enters the card information manually.

Once the customer signs the device screen with a finger, the employee then presses the “process” button.

In the final step, the employee receives a confirmation message. If he or she is out of Wi-Fi or cell range and using a swipe card reader, the payment will be encrypted on the reader and be processed when the employee is back in range.

A useful feature of OntheGo is that users can look up transactions by name, date, comment or clerk ID.

Transaction reports are accessible from the Android device or any computer with Internet access, and the information never expires.

All transaction information is password-protected and transmitted via a secure connection.

There are no merchant fees or monthly minimums. Technical and marketing support are provided at no cost.

An iOS version of the app is scheduled to launch early next year.

An earlier version of OntheGo won a 2012 Best of the Web Digital Government Achievement Award from eRepublic’s Center for Digital Government as one of the nation’s best government-to-citizen applications.

The advent of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s raised the promise for the Internet to have an impact on governmental administration. With the development of relatively inexpensive social media tools, the prospect for lower-cost governmental administration grew.

The past decade has seen governments large and small leverage mobile technology to crowd-source designs for materials through contests and other initiatives. These moves increase citizen engagement with governmental services.

Seamless connection
With mobile payments at the governmental level coming into vogue, technology enthusiasts’ dream of a seamless connection between government services and technology is closer than ever to being realized.

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Adding efficiency via mobile.

“Mobile provides ways of fulfilling government business practices that don’t require expensive equipment or infrastructure to implement,” Mr. Steckler said. “[That is] while also providing important auditing and security features not possible with cash and check transactions.”

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.

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