Bharat Bill Payment System
Designed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Bharat Bill Payment System, known as Bharat BillPay, is controlled and managed by the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI). It is a one-stop payment platform catering to all kinds of payments and generating integrated, accessible, and interoperable bills. Five categories of bills can be paid through Bharat BillPay, including gas, electricity, telecom, water, and DTH. RBI approves the agents (Bank or non-bank) to give services on account of Bharat BillPay. Bharat BillPay is a connecting entity for the Pan-India billing system to streamline bill aggregation business, biller management, and bill payment services. There are 11 official (digital and physical) channels to pay bills through Bharat BillPay:
8 Digital channels Supported By Bharat BillPay
- Internet Banking
- Mobile banking
- Point of sale (POS)
- Mobile point of sale (mPOS)
- Automated teller machine (ATM)
3 Physical channels Included in Bharat BillPay
- Bank branch
- Business correspondents
All the digital transactions can be done without any fee, while any transaction done through a physical medium may cost INR 25 per transaction depending on the mode. The customers can choose from up to 11 methods consisting of cash, credit card, debit card, IMPS, internet banking, account transfer, prepaid card, e-wallet, UPI, NEFT, and Aadhar-based payments. The Bharat Bill Payment System is very flexible as it allows customers to pay in full or in part. The customers can also pay according to the biller's option, whether it's full payment or minimum payments. The penalties can also be paid through this billing system.
5 Institutions under Bharat Bill Payment System
Bharat Bill Payment Central Unit (BBPCU)
BBPCU is responsible for setting up rules and regulations for the stakeholders and business prospects. The procedure to do things effectively is outlined by BBPCU, a regulatory body governed by NPCI as per RBI's authorization.
Bharat Bill Payment Operating Units (BBPOUs)
An Operating Unit can be either a bank or a non-bank. They have in-house authorization to work as Customer Operating Unit (COU), interfacing all the customer-related billing processes, Biller Operating Unit (BOU), acquiring all the billers, or as both COUs and BOUs, which handle operations on both ends. Till 2017 December, there were 70 Operating units consisting of 60 banks and ten non-bank agents, of which 55 work as COUs, two as BOUs, and seven as both. All the operating units must be equipped with every payment mode's necessary provisions for smooth and hassle-free operations.
The one who receives the payment through multiple channels is termed as a biller. The billers should be registered under the Bharat Bill Payment System to be acknowledged as one. Out of 59 entities, as per data till December 2017, 36 receive payments for electricity. And the smallest chunks of those are under broadband payments.
Agent institutions are connected with the COUs for the payment and aggregation business. They connect with COUs and enter into the BillPay ecosystem to involve in billing procedures.
Agents are like service centers to the customers, they can be bank branches, retails stores, or agent outlets. 7.5 million agents have been registered across pan-India as at December 2017, showing the Bharat Bill Payment System's true nature and scale.
6 Benefits of Bharat Bill Payment to Customers
- Pay anywhere, anytime, and on whatever payment platform. It is a single stop payment platform.
- Advanced technology makes it trustworthy.
- Any digital medium or physical medium can be used.
- N number of branches for grievance handling.
- Instant payment receipt through SMS/e-mail/print.
- Time-saving, cost-effective, convenient, and reliable way of making payments.
3 Benefits of Bharat Bill Pay to Billers
- Low cost of entry for smaller entities that are stuck in geographical inconveniences.
- Low aggregation cost as compared to the high traditional aggregation cost.
- Fast payment settlement mechanism resulting in better funds realization.
Challenges Arising in Channel Migration
Every new billing system faces challenges; no matter how secure and reliable. Bharat Bill Payment System the institution does face a few challenges. First and foremost is the shift from a traditional system to this technology-driven system that focuses on one platform for all. The institutions expected to participate might already be using a different set of plans , and it's difficult for them to make this shift without gaining knowledge first. Secondly, there cannot be a check on the fee charged by agents on the customers, resulting in the latter's exploitation. Lastly, spreading knowledge and making people aware of this system is challenging because people do not like to get out of their comfort level and learn anything new when their money is involved.
Bharat Billing Payment System is a comparatively new system, which is being fine tuned to work for both customers, billers, and agents; and is the future for India's billing system.