Paying taxes and bills to
Californian state departments has become a whole lot easier
following implementation of an electronic funds transfer solution
for the state by US banking group Citi’s Global Transaction
Services (GTS) unit. GTS was awarded a multi-year contract by the
California State Treasurer’s Office to operate what constitutes the
largest electronic state tax collection platform in the US.

To address what Citi described as the “diverse
and complex needs” of state agencies participating in the
initiative, Citi partnered with US payments processing systems
vendor Fidelity National Information Services (FIS) to develop a
customised end-to-end payments solution.

The solution is based on FIS’ Pay Direct
platform, which is used by some 6,000 financial institutions. FIS
is also responsible for the provision of internet-based and call
centre operator assisted customer support which is available 24
hours a day, seven days a week.

GTS’ payments platform, which enables
businesses and individuals to pay tax and bills via their own
bank’s website, is providing services for 11 state departments.
These include the Department of Motor Vehicles, which handles
licence payments on some 31 million vehicles, the Department of
Justice, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Employment
Development Department, the Franchise Tax Board and the California
Public Employees Retirement System, the US’ largest public pension
fund.

The California State Treasurer’s Office
anticipates that the solution will yield “significant operational
cost savings” for the departments.

Indicative of the scale of the payments
solution, the participating state departments currently receive up
to 3 million automated clearing house and wire transfer payments
every month.

Providing a payments solution to California
could also be likened to addressing the needs of a major country.
With 37 million inhabitants, California is the US’ most populous
state and was also the largest in terms of its gross state product
of $1.85 trillion in 2008, according to the US Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA).

The CIA notes that as an independent country
California would rank as the world’s 10th-largest economy.