16 June 2015
Developing Public Digital Payment Will Drive Digital Italy
By the end of 2015, all Italian Public Administrations will accept digital payment.
The process that will lead to this result started a long time ago, and one of the fundamental elements in its realisation was the publication of the “Guidelines by the Agency for a Digital Italy” (AgID) that define the procedures to carry out electronic transactions in favour of Public Administrations. These guidelines therefore have the purpose of making the citizens’ payments digital. The Guidelines are also complementary to the transition (in progress) to electronic invoicing (for payments the PA makes to the companies). The development of online procedures – and the subsequent dematerialisation of cash flow to and from the PA – increases the efficiency of payment services, reducing the use of cash and the corresponding costs – with an estimated saving of 0.3% on the national GDP.
The digitalisation of PA income takes place thanks to a technological platform (Payment Node – SPC), already active in the Agency. On one hand, the single public administrations will connect to it using the Public Connectivity System (SPC), on the other the bodies receiving the payment from the citizens will do the same. Among these, all the main banks, the Post Service, Lottomatica, Sisal, the Tobacconists’ Bank and others have all joined the initiative.
The citizen therefore connects to the PA’s site, where they have to pay something (fines, taxes, school fees, health service fees or other) and finds a list of the available options. With a single click, they are taken to their own bank’s website, where they can choose how to pay: with a credit card or a bank transfer. Alternatively, they can go to one of the receiving body’s desks (the receiver’s bank, a tobacconist, etc.) and pay with their bank card or credit card.
One way or another, the payment reaches the PA through the receiving entity,who makes it immediately traceable thanks to a digital label (“IUV” – Unique Payment Identification). This label is an alphanumerical string that identifies the cause of the payment and assures the consumer that the payment has been made successfully. The IUV makes it possible to go past the postal order and to avoid the errors and burdens of inspection activities, which are currently carried out manually by the PA’s employees.
The advantages that are derived from the application of the Payment Node – SPC are linked with the chance, for citizens, to pay all services using electronic money, the lower cost of management and a greater traceability of the transactions. Finally, the PA can automatically bring themselves up to date with the European SEPA standards for payment, which are valid as of the first of February 2015, without having to pay the expense of updating.
Alongside the Payment Node – SPC, which is the payment platform set up by the Agency, it is necessary to create interfaces to facilitate payment for the citizen: that is why in 2014 Tuscany, the region that is at the forefront in terms of digital payments to the PA, created the system called ‘IRIS’.
Thanks to this system, all citizens in the Tuscany region have a digital folder available to them. A single place in which they can manage their position of debt towards the public administration. IRIS brings the added advantage of accelerating the process for bodies connecting to the node.
As a matter of fact, once a position of debt has been created for the citizen, the local authorities can connect to the system in order to notify them. The citizen, connecting via internet to their own folder, can find information on their own position and can make the payment, by numerous methods: by credit card directly on the online platform, at the desk in the Post Office, and by all the channels enabled by the payment node, to which the system us connected. The digital folder also contains the history of everything that has already been paid. Without a system like IRIS, the citizen would have to connect individually to the website corresponding to each individual service, but not all services have necessarily already been inserted in the Payment Node – SPC system.
The digital folder is a taste of what all Italians will have with the government platform called “Italia Login”, indicated in the Digital Growth plan for the 2014-2020 period, approved by the Prime Minister and which will absorb IRIS by June of this year.