Board of Aldermen considers implementing online payment service

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Wrightsville Beach residents might soon be able to pay their bills by credit card.

The proposed online portal for making payments to the town is part of a larger plan to redesign the town’s website to be more user-friendly. At its monthly meeting on Thursday, Aug. 14, the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen heard a proposal by First Citizens Bank merchant services sales consultant Stacy P. Mintz about the type of service the bank would provide, the cost to the town, the necessary equipment and the security measures.

“It’s a really comprehensive plan in that you would be able to take these payments via website, face to face, and we’ll also have a personal terminal so they could just enter those transactions into a computer if someone were to call,” Mintz said.

Mintz explained it was hard to predict the town’s monthly bill because it would vary depending on the average transaction amount and the types of cards used. She presented the board with rates based on a $125 ticket.

Alderwomen Lisa Weeks suggested the board look into cheaper services such as PayPal for the sake of comparison, but Mintz pointed out PayPal might not have the ability to process multiple types of transactions.

Town attorney John Wessell said the majority of people wanted the convenience of paying citations, building permits, bills, and taxes by credit card.

“Some people are used to doing it [by cash or check],” Wessel said, “but I just think there are a lot of people like myself who don’t carry cash.”

“This is the 21st century,” Weeks added.

The board also asked Mintz to address the program’s security measures.

“It has state of the art security,” Mintz responded. “When you’re processing the credit card number that number is changed to a billing number…it doesn’t jumble it because there’s a brainiac somewhere who can figure that out. It’s called tokenization and it’s the latest and greatest in security.”

Mintz added that the program did not require a contract, so the town could try the service for six months or a year and cancel it at no cost. Despite that, the board members agreed to do more research before making a final decision.

“I think this is something I’d be inclined to try, but I’d like to get more information and get input from the current municipalities that use this program,” Mayor Bill Blair said.

email Emmy Errante

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