Starting this August, one million consumers in the Indian city of Mumbai can pay their electric bills through a mobile wallet. The utility known as BEST, or Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport, has partnered with third-party aggregator Money Mobile Payment Limited (MMPL) to provide the service.
Essentially, the solution allows consumers to pay their bills against a stored value account. An initial registration is required, where consumers are asked to provide personal details such as an address, and present a photo ID. Once the account is created, the mobile wallet can be topped up via online banking, at MMPL or at a local reseller.
At present, BEST electricity users can pay either online through an electronic clearing system, or by cash and checks at customer centres. While MMPL already has a few resellers in the island city, BEST expects its network to grow as users join the mobile wallet service, according to Indianexpress.com.
But the popularity of consumer bill payment via mobile devices is not limited to India. Cellum currently has mobile wallets with a bill payment feature in two countries, and it is by large one of the most popular functions among the company’s user base. In Hungary, users of MasterCard Mobile can pay monthly bills issued by a range of service providers, ranging from leading telecommunications provider Magyar Telekom to a number of regional public utility companies, by scanning a QR code printed on the bill. In Bulgaria, the CellumPay wallet works the same way with bills issued by the Sofia Water Company.
In April money transfer specialist The Western Union Company released a study of how consumers pay their bills: to no surprise, use of mobile bill payment is on the rise, consumers are increasingly looking for new ways to manage their bills, which points to the need for continued innovation by service providers across the payments industry. In the U.S. 12 percent of respondents said they intend to pay more bills from their mobile devices, while 39 percent said they will pay more bills online in 2013. Fourteen percent of respondents said they plan to make a payment on their mobile devices in the next six months.