NatWest Partnership May Encourage Adoption of Open Banking As Means for UK Universities to Be More Efficient

NatWest will work with JS Group, an innovative partner to universities with a track record of improving the delivery of specialist student funds and of strengthening student engagement, to support more students as they progress within the UK’s higher education system.

It’s said to be the “first” partnership of its kind for the bank “within the education sector and could encourage wider adoption of open banking as a means for universities to be more effective and efficient.”

Aspire Cash saves time and money in “the provision of bursaries and hardship funding to their students.”

As part of this new strategic partnership, NatWest relationship managers “will be able to reach out to universities and refer them to Aspire Cash, the JS Group payment solution powered by PayitTM by NatWest, to help universities get urgent funds to students in minutes rather than days.”

And universities don’t need to be NatWest customers to benefit.

With JS Group estimating that £800m to £1bn is being issued to students each year, and financial pressures on students increasing, “the administrative costs for universities processing payments continues to grow. With Aspire Cash, universities can reduce their administrative costs and increase the impact of their student funding.”

These payments include “a combination of criteria-based awards and application-based payments such as bursaries, digital access funds, hardship funds and endowments, scholarships and other third-party funding schemes.”

Barrie Davison, Head of Education Sector at NatWest:

“As a national employer and major graduate and apprentice recruiter, NatWest has a major role to play in enabling social mobility. Our partnership with JS Group had been forged through the strong alignment of our respective organizational values and desire to champion inclusivity. Higher education serves as a catalyst for individual and societal advancement. However, access to it remains unequal, with students from disadvantaged backgrounds significantly underrepresented in UK universities.”

The JS Group works with more than 30 universities “across the UK and has a longstanding mission to drive better investment in student engagement and student futures. It has recently won two major open banking awards for its pioneering approach to student finance and been cited in a higher education think tank (HEPI) report as a model for addressing cost-of-living pressures for students.”

The Aspire Cash service aims to “simplify access to money, by helping students mitigate financial hardship with faster payments directly into their bank account and has been launched with universities across the UK.”

Through the Aspire Cash funding platform, JS Group sets-up accounts “for benefitting students and send them details of how to access their funds. Students can drawdown their funds using the Payit by NatWest API solution when and where they like, to the bank account of their choice, using their smartphone and a secure two-factor verification process.”

Payit by NatWest means universities don’t need to “collect and verify student bank account details or mobile phone numbers manually. Instead, institutional finance teams simply need to provide details of benefitting students and their award.”

This innovative approach offers students access “to funds in real time, control of where the funds are sent and in tranches should they wish which helps with budgeting.”

Universities are able to offer a better customer experience “for students, benefit from cost savings as it reduces the involvement of a finance team, lessens any data security obligations associated with student bank details and provides the university with the opportunity to capture more student data. This insight into students with financial support needs will help inform better targeted allocation of funding.”

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