Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (TPDDL), a leading power utility supplier, catering to the needs of seven million people in the north and north-west Delhi, said it received over 90% of its bill payments in digital mode during the lockdown.
This was a marked improvement on the earlier number when 65% of the consumers were using digital payments before the lockdown. The trend was observed on all digital platforms and modes that were made available for e-payment.
Among the various modes of payments, e-wallets or digital wallets emerged as the most preferred choice, followed by net banking, with nearly 20% of the share. The main reason behind the popularity of e-wallets is the cashback offers associated with it.
Notably, April and May saw zero cash bill payments, which is an encouraging development for the power sector.
The company has also introduced delivery of bills on WhatsApp and other mediums like the TPDDL Connect Mobile App. Speaking on this new milestone, CEO of Tata Power-DDL, Ganesh Srinivasan, said, “We at Tata Power-DDL have been working towards various strategies over the years to revamp the process of bill payments for consumer convenience and to contribute towards a digital India. We have now reached a number where more than 90% of our bill payment is received via digital modes. It has been a remarkable journey of developing a cashless customer friendly payment system in the utility space, promoting efficiency and transparency in the transactions. We urge all our consumers to make e- payment a practice beyond COVID-19 days also.”
According to the data released by the company, in May, nearly 92% of the consumers made their payments online, and the number was much higher for the month of April when nearly 95% of the consumers made their payments using digital methods. The company added that all segments of consumers, be it domestic, industrial, or agricultural, opted for e-payments at a rate of 94.75%, 92.18%, and 72%, respectively.
Recently, considering the COVID-19 outbreak and the repercussions it has had on several services, including power supply, the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) announced rebates and incentives on power bills raised between March 24, 2020, to June 30, 2020. It also reduced the rate of late payment surcharge from 18% to 12% per annum for bills that are raised between March 24, 2020, and June 30, 2020.
Digital payment of invoices is the need of the hour for the Indian power market. There is no better time to implement smart meters than now. Social distancing regulations and the nationwide lockdown have prohibited DISCOMs from physically collecting electricity bills as conventional metering systems require readings to be checked in person. This, along with its other problems, including aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses, low tariffs, and other internal inefficiencies, has left DISCOMs in a tough spot financially. Smart meters could be the much-needed solution to most of these problems. They require minimal direct human interaction and have other widespread benefits that will be felt across the entire power value chain. Read Mercom’s in-depth analysis of the rising importance of smart meters in India here.
In April, we also published an article enlisting some useful apps to help power consumers during the lockdown.