Technology has made everything available at an individual’s fingertips. There are so many innovations in the contemporary era that have made life so much easier and more comfortable. One such innovation is the usage of online payments with the help of smartphones, credit and debit cards, and various other sources. We all use the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) for daily payments while shopping, traveling, recharging, bill payments, etc. Just one click and we can pay all our bills by staying at home.

In addition to this, the Government of India has launched an integrated bill payment system in India, the Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS), which offers interoperable and accessible bill payment service to customers across the cities and villages of India with certainty, reliability, and safety of transactions through a network of agents of the registered member as Agent Institutions (AI), enabling multiple payment modes and providing instant confirmation of payment. National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) functions as the authorized Bharat Bill Payment Central Unit (BBPCU) that is responsible for setting up business standards as well as the rules and procedures for technical and business requirements for all the participants. NPCI as the BBPCU is also responsible for clearing and settlement activities related to transactions routed through BBPS. The existing bill aggregators and banks work together as Operating Units to provide this interoperable bill payment system irrespective of which unit has onboarded a particular biller.

BBPS is a one-stop solution for all your bill payments. You can pay bills for electricity, gas, water, telecom, insurance, education, loan repayments, municipal taxes, Fastag recharge, and various others anytime and anywhere. You can pay your bills online or through physical payment. For online payment log in at any bank or non-bank application such as net banking, app, or wallet with the Bharat Bill Pay icon or B icon under Bill Pay or Bill Payments tab. Then, the consumer has to select the category and the biller for which the bill has to be paid, and on the basis of input of key parameters, the consumer will get his/her bill details. Verify and recheck the amount to be paid and pay through net banking, wallet, UPI, card, etc. whichever option is accepted at the particular site or app.

The consumer gets an instant confirmation on the mobile screen or web with a Be-assured logo. For physical payments connect with any of the nearest Bharat Bill Pay agent outlets, bank branches, or any Bharat Bill Pay service point. Mention the name and the type of the biller. Then verify and recheck the amount to be paid and you can pay through cash, card, etc. whichever is accepted at the particular agent outlet, branch, Aadhar Payments, etc. The agent outlet or branch then initiates the final payment for the bill. The consumer gets an instant confirmation of the bill paid through a physical bill receipt with a Be-assured mark. Physical payment is more popular in rural areas due to the unavailability of smartphones in every household. There are various modes of payment in Bharat Bill Pay like Internet Banking, UPI, Credit Cards, Debit Cards, Prepaid Cards, Cash, IMPS, NEFT, AEPS, USSD, Wallet, Account Transfer, Bharat QR, etc.

These payment modes can be used through a number of payment channels such as Bank Branch, ATMs, KIOSK, Business Correspondent, Agents, Mobile Banking (Pre-Login), Mobile Banking (Post Login), Internet Banking (Pre-Login) and Internet Banking (Post Login). The consumer can make payments using any of these modes and channels. The BBPS is a reliable service with a high degree of trust and security as well as transparent pricing with instant payment confirmation. It has a unified grievance handling system in case there is any issue related to any of the payments that are made. Two kinds of complaints can be raised for BBPS transactions — Transaction based complaints and Service based complaints. The consumers can register complaints at the BBPS portal or they can contact the 24×7 phone numbers from any landline or mobile number. The toll-free numbers for the same are 1800–200–1947 and 1800–22–1070. These BBPS services are available every day and all days of the week throughout the year, including all public holidays.

Advantages of BBPS for Rural Community

Digitally-savvy urban consumers have the easiest of payment experiences but only a small percentage of bill payments happen digitally. On the other hand, bill payments in rural areas remain a very tedious chore. We can only imagine how a villager has to wait for hours for a bus or any other mode of transport and spend most of his time in travelling to visit the nearest taluka office to pay an electricity bill of only Rupees 50. He/She has to spend more amount than the bill for travelling and other expenses on his way so this becomes a disadvantage for the villager. Sometimes it may also happen that due to some reason the consumer is unable to visit the office for payment and has to pay more amount as late fees which is a total loss for him/her. This and various other reasons can hinder bill payments and create trouble for the villager. The Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) has been designed as a system that can address such issues and launched mainly for the people in rural areas in order for them to take authority of a unified system and make most advantage of it.

The platform of BBPS makes digital transactions easier for people living in rural areas by providing a single place to pay for all the government utility payments. It functions as a central switch where once a biller connects into BBPS, he/she can accept bill payments from any BBPS customer touch point. For example, a bill payer from Shillong will be able to pay his/her utility bills even if he/she is on a vacation in Maharashtra, by visiting a nearby BBPS centre and paying a nominal service fee. With new payment banks and many other organizations planning to join the BBPS network, the nearest bill payment centre may soon be your kirana store, your mobile recharge shop, your bank or even your nearest post office. This amazing initiative by the Government of India has saved a lot of time of the people in rural areas. This system has made the lives of the villagers simple and less complicated. The time and money saved by the necessitous consumers can definitely be made use of, somewhere else.

BBPS has unleashed major changes across the ecosystem. For the poverty-stricken customers, the increased number of payment touch points and the ability to pay a wide range of bills using any mode of payment including cash has brought in a new age of convenience. The universe of billers will also expand due to BBPS. Anyone who has a bill that needs to be collected including microfinance institutions, educational institutions, newspaper vendors, the milkman and various others can become billers in the BBPS system. These are the segments where bill collection is the most inefficient. By joining the BBPS network such billers can ensure timely collections while providing a convenient mode of payment for customers in the rural areas who don’t have enough knowledge and understanding about technology. For many billers, BBPS can help move bill collection from an expensive and high-touch process involving multiple follow-ups into a cost effective and low-touch process. The BBPS has made it convenient and as easy as a pie for both the consumers as well as the billers.

Arth Digital: ARTH has powered millions of budding micro-entrepreneurs across India by giving them access to financial and livelihood support services.