OnTheGo, a new app that lets Idaho government employees collect payments on their cell phones, has been named one of “30 innovations that mattered” in 2014 by GovLoop, a website that caters to U.S. government employees. The payment app, developed by Access Idaho, is now being tested in other states that use Access Idaho’s parent company, NIC, for payment processing and online services.
The OnTheGo app, right now available on Android devices, was developed after Access Idaho received a request from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office for a way to process payments from roadside tickets. The app is now being used by other local governments across the state that collect payments, including boat rentals in Spirit Lake and at snowmobile trailheads in Valley County.
The app and a paired swipe-card reader function similarly to the popular payment app Square, said Jeff Walker, Access Idaho’s general manager. But the app had to meet several Idaho-centric needs. First, it needed to protect the private information of the people who were paying government employees, since the app can be downloaded onto non-government phones. Second, it had to function in places that lack cell reception, a condition that applies to much of the state. The app stores payment information, then transmits it to Access Idaho’s payment processing system when it regains cell or Wi-Fi reception.
“Governments don’t always operate in urban areas with really good cell coverage,” Walker said.
The app was built by Access Idaho’s 14-employee team in Boise. Access Idaho has built most of the Idaho’s government websites, though OnTheGo is one of the few smartphone apps it has developed. Another is a practice driving test developed for the Idaho Transportation Department. Access Idaho also handles much of the state’s payment processing, handling $188 million per year.
Idaho is one of 27 states that uses NIC to provide electronic government services. Walker said other NIC states are looking at using the Idaho-developed payment system. The app is NIC’s intellectual property, though Walker said its widespread adoption could be a “political win” for Access Idaho and the state. Walker said Access Idaho is also developing an iOS version of the app that should be available this year.