GOV.UK Pay to offer mobile wallets for local government and explore open banking

Government Digital Service plans new features for payments tool as well as ongoing testing for Forms platform, to support ambition to be departments’ ‘first choice’ in building new online services

The Government Digital Service plans to add new functionality to the GOV.UK Pay platform, including allowing local authorities to take payments via mobile wallets and a possible expansion into open banking options.

The payments tool, first launched in 2015, already enables central government agencies to accept payments via smartphone-based wallet systems – such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. These options will shortly be available for payments taken by local authorities.

“This will be a great benefit to people who are paying for government services on the go, like paying for Clean Air Zone charges,” said Amanda Dahl, GDS deputy director of digital service platforms.

In a newly published blog post, Dahl – who joined GDS nine months ago, arriving from its US counterpart: the United States Digital Service – said that “with all digital products, it’s important to continue developing them based on user needs, even when they are well-established like GOV.UK Pay”.

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To this end, the Cabinet Office-based digital government unit will be exploring further new features – including plans to enable citizens and businesses to pay for public services directly via online banking services.

“Later this year we’ll also be investigating how GOV.UK Pay might offer open banking, which means that people will have the option to pay for services conveniently using their own banking app”, she said.

Another long-standing GDS-developed tool, the GOV.UK Notify messaging platform, is also gaining new functionality and will soon include “the ability to add attachments and QR codes to letters, which will enable more government services to use the product to communicate to citizens”.

Dahl added that “product development is also important for our emerging products, like GOV.UK Forms” – a service which was unveiled last year to help non-technical staff design online services by embedding ready-made forms. The tool also aims to solve issues caused by the ongoing use of thousands of document-based forms that exclude users with disabilities and fail to comply with accessibility regulation.

The Insolvency Service’s Redundancy Payments Service was the first digital tool to incorporate elements built using GOV.UK forms.

Dahl said that her team has “already made some great strides in transforming services, working in partnership with teams” from the Insolvency Service and others around government.

“We’re currently testing GOV.UK Forms with a limited number of other government teams to help us understand how the product is working and what issues we need to address before we make it more widely available,” she said. “DWP’s Access to Work Plus referral is one of the services now using GOV.UK Forms and provides support for people with high in-work support needs.”

Forms, Pay and Notify all form part of GDS’s suite of common platforms, which are intended to provide departments with customisable reusable tools to help design and embed in services.

Sam Trendall

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