case studies
efficiency optimization

Efficiency and control in research incentive payments

University of Michigan introduces prepaid cards providing easy, inexpensive and secure access to cash for recipients

The challenge

The University of Michigan is a top research university known for research spending, interdisciplinary programs, international outreach, athletics and academics. With expenditures in excess of $1 billion, research is central to the university's mission and permeates all 19 schools and colleges.

The University sought to automate the secure administration of all payments to human subject participants of its many diverse research programs — minimizing the use of cash, paper checks, vouchers and store gift cards to reduce expense and risk. Its objective: to streamline incentive payments in a secure and efficient manner, while gaining full visibility of the funds flow to ensure control and accountability.

The solution

Citi Prepaid Services, the preeminent provider of prepaid cards, identified an opportunity to use prepaid cards for human research participant payments, and worked consultatively with the University. Citi rapidly implemented and launched a Visa card program to support Michigan's comprehensive solution, which has allowed the University to quickly shift less efficient payment options to electronic delivery.

This innovative program will help the University automate the administration of research incentive payments and expediently deliver the payments across all studies using one central tool. Because the solution accommodates multiple workflows that the University's studies may follow, whether it be distributing cards and paying participants at the time of study, delivering virtual payments to online study participants or giving researchers easy access to funds, it will drive administrative efficiencies and risk reduction for the University.

The result

Providing easy, inexpensive and secure access to cash for the University's ultimate payment recipients, this prepaid card program reduced the risk of fraud associated with paper checks, petty cash accounts and other manual payments.