Not very long ago, paying utility bills was quite a task. You had to sacrifice your lunch hour to brave long queues at bill payment outlets. But, thanks to technology and digitisation, Credit Card and Debit Card holders can now easily pay their bills online using their smartphones or a computer.
The implementation of the demonetisation drive last year triggered a surge in digital transactions in India. This was further aided by the launch of mobile-friendly and secure payment options by the government and the launch of regulatory policies in support of the online payment methods.
Additional Reading: Time To Go Cashless!
According to a study by Google (Alphabet Inc.) and Boston Consulting Group, the quantum of non-cash transactions within the country will exceed that of cash transactions by 2023. The report also forecast that the digital payments industry will grow ten-fold by 2020. Looks like Prime Minister Modi’s Digital India dream is set to turn into a reality.
However, there are quite a few barriers to digital payments in our country, such as:
- Paying with cash is a habit. People are comfortable transacting in cash and it will take time for many of them to adopt cashless methods. Until then, it looks like cash will always be preferred for certain payments.
- Some individuals find the whole digital payments landscape complex.
- The shift to digital payment methods has been easier for the urban populace when compared with the larger rural population, where the reach is, sadly, quite low.
Additional Reading: Going Cashless: Here’s What You Should Know
The digital transactions trend in India was pioneered by e-commerce websites such as Flipkart and Amazon, as well as a handful of online ticketing service providers such as RedBus, MakeMyTrip, Yatra etc. These companies successfully lured customers via attractive discounts and soon people warmed up to the ease and comfort of transacting online.
And then there was the smartphone boom, which shrunk the world into the palm of our hand. You could do everything from shopping to bill payment and even banking on your smartphone. This, in turn, paved the way for the mobile wallet industry in India.
Research shows that Indians prefer digital transactions primarily for online shopping, purchasing movie tickets and paying utility bills. Convenience is the main factor that led to the adoption of digital transactions for these services, especially when it comes to bill payments. Utility bill payments became much easier with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)—the umbrella organisation for retail bill payments in the country—launching the Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS).
Additional Reading: How To Use Digital Wallets Effectively For Online Transactions
Bharat Bill Payment System
In line with RBI’s vision to facilitate payment of bills from anywhere at any time, NPCI came up with the Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) to promote digital payments. It aims to reduce the number of cash transactions in the country by allowing customers to make bill payments through an agent or the internet. Once the payment is made, the customer is provided with the confirmation receipt instantly.
As of now, BBPS applies to services such as electricity, telephone, water, gas and DTH payments. It has plans to expand its reach to other services such as institution fee payments, Credit Card bill payments, Mutual Fund payments, charity, government payments, etc.
Digital Payment Options
As of today, there are a plethora of digital payment platforms and wallets available which can be used for making all kinds of online payments. All you need to do is add money to the digital wallet using your Credit Card or Debit Card and you’re good to go. You wouldn’t have to spendNo more spending your valuable time standing in long queues.
Here are some of the top digital payment options you can use to pay your utility bills anytime, anywhere:
FreeCharge is one of the top players in the digital payments sector. It’s a great way to electronically pay for your mobile and DTH recharges and electricity, water, gas, landline and broadband connections. FreeCharge also offers great deals and cashback on every transaction that you make.
HDFC PayZapp gives you the power to make payments with just one click. All you need to do is connect your Debit Card or Credit Card to the wallet and you’ll never have to worry about making payments again.
This is an e-wallet powered by VISA and can be used to transfer money, shop and pay bills online and much more. You do not have to be an ICICI customer to use this wallet. All you have to do is download the app, enter your details, verify your phone number, create your user ID and password, and add money via your Debit Card, Internet Banking, NEFT or ICICI bank account (if you’re an ICICI customer).
The Gurugram-based company offers an electronic wallet that can be used to make hassle-free payments for various services. Whether you want to recharge your phone, pay your electricity bill or your gas bill, you can rely on this safe and secure wallet.
Cab aggregator Ola launched its own digital wallet in 2015. It was launched as an effort to make cashless travelling a reality in India. However, you can now use Ola Money to also pay your utility bills. It can also be used to make payments at certain restaurants, to buy groceries and to book flight tickets.
PayUmoney was launched to simplify the online payments landscape in India. This free payment gateway has partnered with most of the major banks across the country. Merchants can sign up with this platform and provide it as a payment option to their customers. Customers can then use their Debit Card, Credit Card or netbanking to pay for services.
Bonus Read: ‘Contactless’ – A New Digital Payment Method
Digital payment options are an easy, secure and convenient way to pay for services and goods. They are slowly revolutionising the way payments are made in the country. But, will cash-based transactions ever die? Will the cashless economy dream turn into a dominant force? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.