Today marks one year of Nepal Electricity Authority(NEA)’s online bill payment system launch. On August 21 last year, NEA Managing Director Kulman Ghising and the then energy minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi had jointly inaugurated online electricity bill payment system. In this one year, NEA Ratnapark Distribution Center (DC) collected close to 7% of its revenue via online payment channels alone, and reduced its bill payment counters from earlier 9 to current 7. It can be taken as one of the major visible signs of changing payment trends in Nepal – a migration from cash to online payments.
Talking to blog.khalti.com, Narayan Prasad Dahal, head of billing department at NEA Ratnapark DC said:
The first year of online payment collection remained very positive. NEA’s Ratnapark DC managed to collect 7% of the total revenue via online channels, and reduced the number of cash counters from earlier total 9 to current 7.
Before the digital payment system was launched, electricity bill collection and payment used to be carried out through cash counters only. Now, approximately 200 people make payments through online channels in a single day at Ratnapark distribution center alone. It has also facilitated timely payment of electricity bill to the customers.
“We are encouraged by success of online bill collection in this inception year. Bill payment counters are on the verge of closure in many distribution centers throughout the nation as more and more people have started paying bills online,” said the enthused officer, Dahal.
Customers can pay their electricity bills through multiple payment channels like internet banking, mobile-banking, mobile wallets (eg. Khalti), POS (Point of Sale terminal, eg. Khalti Pasal), kiosks, etc.
Online bill payment without any extra charges
The payment service providers have been providing the electricity bill payment facility to the customers without any extra charges.
However, this online bill payment system is still running in a trial phase and customers need to reach cash counters if their meter bill amount exceeds Rs. 1 lakh.
Website launched to check bills online, smart meters soon
NEA has launched a website from where customers can check their electricity bill amount online. However, NEA still does not have a server to accept payments directly from its customers. Thus, need to go to third party providers’ sites to make payments.
“We are working on a system, after which a separate code will be provided to each consumer. We will put a separate server, and integrating billing directly in NEA’s website,” shared Dahal.
In near future, NEA will also be installing smart meters instead of existing meters to improve the current billing system.
Last year itself, we issued tender notice for new smart meters, and the meters have already arrived. Within a year, we will be installing these meters in customers’ households in a pilot phase. After installation of these smart meters, meter reading can be carried out from the centralized system, and our meter readers need not to go to individual households.
– Narayan Prasad Dahal, Head of Billing Department, NEA Ratnapark DC
Major population still unaware of online payment
Online bill payment is a nationwide trend. However, because of lack of public awareness, the volume of payments is not that high outside Kathmandu valley.
“Most city dwellers and netizens know paying online is almost similar to paying from cash counters. Nevertheless, general public outside the valley are not aware about online payment and its safety.
“If we can put notice on Cable TVs and other platforms with a message that paying bill online is like paying directly to us at cash counters, the volume of online payment collection would increase rapidly,” shared Dahal with optimism.