Few amongst us can surely boast to be digitally-savvy when it comes to making payments of our utility bills. But the reality is that only a small percentage of bill payments happen digitally. Not just the rural consumers; even for a vast majority of the urban consumers, utility bill payments still remains a tedious chore.
Let us visualise our less tech-savvy parents having to wait for a bus, and travelling for an hour through the traffic to the nearest BOCP (Billers Own Collection Point) to pay their telephone bill. Or worse, imagine our relatives in our village having to travel for hours in the bus to the nearest Taluka office to pay their electricity bill. This visualisation is in fact a sad reality even in this day and age of technological advancement.
So here comes the game changer from NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India) that is all set to change the entire rules of the game with the Bharat Bill Payment System also known as BHARAT BILLPAY. Bharat BillPay is an ecosystem that facilitates bill payment via digital channels like Internet Banking, Website, Mobile App/Banking, and also via physical channels like collection agents, bank branches etc. by allowing the customer to pay their bills at one-destination via their own preferred bank/non-bank channels instead of using various Apps or logging to different websites of billers or travelling to various collection centres.
Bharat BillPay is all set to unleash major change across the ecosystem, in fact, a paradigm shift in the way bill payments can be made. It will usher in a new age of convenience for the customers with increased number of payment touch points and the facility to pay a wide range of bills. What’s even more interesting is the facility to use any mode of payment, including cash.
Once billers are connected to the Bharat BillPay ecosystem, they have the facility of accepting bill payments from any of the Bharat BillPay customer touch point. In other words, the bills can be paid from anywhere in the country, your relative from Kerala will be able to pay his utility bills, even if he is on a trip to Maharashtra, by visiting a nearby Bharat BillPay centre
For the billers, Bharat BillPay is set to bring down the cost of collections significantly. Even the largest utility suppliers of electricity, water and gas have only a limited number of physical collection centres within their own geographies. The advent of Bharat BillPay would mean that billers need not tie up individually with third parties for collection. They just need to join the Bharat BillPay network and every collection unit affiliated to Bharat BillPay becomes their collection unit.
Currently, RBI (Reserve Bank of India) has allowed five categories of billers in the Bharat BillPay ecosystem: electricity, water, direct-to-home, gas and telecom. With the kind of benefits that it envisages for both the bill payer and the biller, it is quite certain that more categories will be opened up soon.
After the success of the UPI (Unified Payments Interface), Bharat BillPay is the next big initiative conceptualised by RBI and driven by NPCI, the umbrella organization for payments in India, owned by Indian banks and regulated by RBI.
Bharat BillPay is poised to bring about an exemplar shift in the way payments are made for all the stakeholders involved. For the billers, it will help move bill collection from an expensive, high-touch process involving multiple follow-ups, into to a cost-effective, low-touch process. For banks who are the conduit for bringing billers into the network, it will be an opportunity to build deep relationship, build revenues through transaction fees and opening new accounts; while for the bank customers, the ability to pay a wide range of bills through the bank account will be a strong incentive to ensure that their account is always sufficiently funded and active.
For the companies that are technology and service providers in the billing ecosystem, Bharat BilllPay could expand their business opportunity as more billers and consumers enter this network. Even for the mobile wallets and payment Apps, bill payment is one of the best ways of ensuring regular usage by customers and also making them familiar with their Apps.
As and when RBI opens up Bharat BillPay to several other categories of billers, conceptually, anyone who has a bill that needs to be collected, be it microfinance institutions, housing societies, schools and colleges, municipal taxes etc., segments where presently bill collection is totally disorganised and most inefficient, can become billers in the BBPS system.
With Bharat BillPay, we can be assured of total convenience of being able to just walk in to a nearby Bharat BillPay enabled outlet or sign-in to a website or Bank App or any digital App like Amazon Pay, Google Pay, PhonePe etc., and pay all our bills in one go.
With new payment banks and many other billers as well as collection points set to join the Bharat BillPay network, your nearest bill payment centre may soon be your neighbourhood mobile recharge shop, your post office or maybe even your kirana store.