Municipality of Zaanstad: faster payments thanks to QR-codes


Bills, invoices, levies: we cannot make it more fun, but it can be made easier – to losely quote the Dutch Tax Authorities. That is what Rob van Zuuk of the municipality of Zaanstad thought of when he started to optimize the debtor process within the organization. A fruitful collaboration with PayByLink resulted in using user-friendly QR codes on the invoices to be sent for citizens and for businesses.

The municipality of Zaanstad is composed of several smaller municipalities, including towns such as Zaandam, Krommenie and Assendelt. With 155,000 inhabitants and 1,200 FTEs, it is one of the larger municipalities in the Netherlands. Rob van Zuuk who has 30 years of experience in IT, has been working as a senior consultant in the municipality’s IT department for about 10 years now, focusing primarily on (financial) application management.

Payments made easier

Some time ago, he decided that his ambition was to optimize the debtor process. Van Zuuk: “While brainstorming, we concluded that we wanted to make paying invoices easier for citizens as part of that optimization. In search for a good cooperation partner to make this happen, we came across PayByLink, since we already have iDeal at the counters of Civil Affairs and already have a contract with Ingenico. Together we started creating invoices that contain a QR code both by mail and by email.”

QR-codes by mail and e-mail

This resulted in success: since January, around 1000 documents have been sent with a user friendly QR code. A win-win situation for both the citizen and the municipality of Zaanstad, Van Zuuk explains. “To pay an invoice, now citizens only have to scan the QR code with their phone, and the job is done. In addition to invoices by email, there is also a link that directs people to a payment screen. This automatically ensures that payments are executed faster, which is beneficial for us. Moreover, we do not have to do as much manual work, because payments via a QR code are processed fully automatically without citizens having to enter their own details. All payment details are already hidden behind the QR code. In this way we avoid any typing errors and we see an increase in the number of payments processed automatically in our financial package.“

Pay per use

Van Zuuk continues: “In addition to the fixed monthly subscription costs, we only pay for the QR codes that are actually used. This is very nice about our cooperation with PayByLink and makes the variable part of this contract very attractive. Around 10 percent of people who receive an invoice are currently paying with the QR code. I am satisfied with that, especially if we keep the following comments in mind. We send a lot of invoices to companies that pay per batch from their own systems and we have not promoted the introduction of the QR code as a payment method. We may want to do that in the future, to call for more attention to the QR-code.”

Be open to innovation

Does this innovation trigger future innovation plans? As far as Van Zuuk is concerned. “At present, only the invoices for citizens and businesses can be paid with the QR code, but I would like to expand that to invoices for governments in the long term. In addition, I think it would be nice to introduce payments with your mobile phone as is already possible in supermarkets at the counters of Civil Affairs. When you have forgotten your debit card, you would still be able to pay by scanning the QR-code with your mobile phone. Who knows!’

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