Pay.gov, the US Government's Web portal for collecting payments for federal agencies, has opened up to digital wallets from PayPal and Dwolla, as part of an ongoing effort to move away from paper-based processes to more efficient and secure electronic transactions.
The US Government's Fiscal Service unit collected $3.73 trillion in revenue during 2014, processing 400 million transactions through several programmes, including Pay.gov. Nearly 98% ($3.69 trillion) was settled electronically.
Nearly 200 federal agencies, ranging from the Department of Interior to the Department of Defense, use the US Treasury’s Pay.gov platform to create and host custom online payment forms, collecting over 100 million transactions worth approximately $110 billion.
Explaining the aims of the digital wallet initiative, Corvelli McDaniel, assistant commissioner for revenue collection management, says: "Digital wallets provide convenience, simplicity, and a trusted customer experience, while achieving cost effectiveness for the Federal Government. We are commited to operational excellence and continually improving our business processes; digital wallets help us achieve that goal."
The opening up to Dwolla and PayPal (and, presumably, ApplePay) is but one part of a wide-reaching effort to improve the safety and efficiency of the US Government's transaction processing infrastructure.
The Treasury is responding to the escalating wave of data breaches on US shores by applying chip and PIN technology to newly issued and existing government credit cards, as well as debit cards like Direct Express. It is also upgrading retail payment card terminals at Federal agency facilities to accept chip and PIN-enabled cards.
In a blog post
, David Lebryk the fiscal assistant secretary at the treasury, says the Government is also open to new tokenisation initiatives by the major card schemes, which replace the use of card numbers with encrypted transaction codes.
"Treasury looks forward to working with providers to evaluate how these new technologies can be used with government benefits cards and terminals," he writes. "This process involves studying the technology and establishing agreements with each provider. We are also working with Federal agencies to upgrade their credit and debit card terminals to support secure standards used by these providers."