Fairfield offers PayPal, Venmo for easier utility payments

The city of Fairfield is now taking digital payments through PayPal and Venmo for residents to pay their utility bills. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/FILE
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The city of Fairfield is now taking digital payments through PayPal and Venmo for residents to pay their utility bills. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/FILE

Additional mobile payment options adds to convenient ways to take care of bills with city each month.

Fairfield has made it easier for residents to pay their utility bills with the city.

In addition to paying water and sewer bills with a credit card or e-check, they can now pay them with PayPal and Venmo.

“Basically, it’s to give our residents as many options as possible, convenience to pay their bill in whatever way it works best for them,” said Fairfield Finance Director Jake Burton.

The option to pay via these mobile payment services launched in early August, but it wasn’t advertised, Burton said. The city wanted to roll it out slowly to make sure everything worked. From Aug. 5 to 30, 26 people paid their utility bills with either PayPal or Venmo.

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“We had a month to test, to make sure all the payments came in seamlessly,” said Burton. “Everything worked. Now we’re ready to start advertising the option.”

Using online payment options is becoming more popular. In a 2018 survey by PayPal, which also owns Venmo, 93% of respondents want governments to offer digital payment options, and more than half would pay government bills with PayPal or Venmo if they were available. The survey indicated only 10% would use Apple Pay, which is also a payment option with Fairfield.

The option to make payments with PayPal and Venmo is possible because of the city’s billpayer software, InvoiceCloud, which is common among area municipalities. Burton said he knew InvoiceCloud, which was in the works prior to Burton’s arrival this past spring, could accept payments from PayPal and Venmo options.

“The city is trying its best to offer residents additional convenient options to pay their bills,” said Burton. “This is no additional fees to the residents or the city to use these payment options, and it also allows people to pay their bills without having to access their bank accounts.”

InvoiceCloud said these digital payment options are offered for multiple reasons, including convenience, allows underserved customers to pay online, keeps up with changing customer expectations, and accelerates online payments.

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
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(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Credit: Patrick Semansky

Credit: Patrick Semansky

“It’s obviously growing very much in popularity, but it’s just another way for us to keep up with technology as things evolve,” Burton said.

The city finance department is planning to roll out additional payment digital options for utility customers, including a PayNearMe option which could be rolled out next month. Burton said the city is working to “get everything lined up” for the PayNearMe option where residents would be able to pay utility bills while shopping at specific retail and grocery stores.

Fairfield Economic Development Manager Nathaniel Kaelin called it a “big move” for residents as the city “is using platforms that our residents are using regularly for online purchases.”