For the 10-lakh consumers of Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST), paying electricity bills is set to get a lot easier. Not just the nearest bus depot, soon grocery shops, medical stores, shopping malls and even laundries will accept bills.
The BEST is in the final stages of selecting ‘franchisees’ that can accept electricity bills on their behalf. “We have already selected two agencies who will collect electricity bills. Soon, we will appoint such franchisees across the city,” said OP Gupta, managing director, BEST.
Explaining the procedure, sources in BEST said a consumer could pay electricity bills at a shop selected by the franchisee. This will be similar to how a shop running a mobile recharge centre operates. Nearly 300-odd shops and stores will be identified.
Once a consumer goes to any of the convenient payment outlets, the electricity bill will be accepted and a computerised counterfoil returned as acknowledgement. Once the designated shop receives electricity bills worth Rs 50,000, they will be sent to the ‘franchisee’, which will forward it to the BEST.
In return, the BEST will pay the franchisee around Rs 3-5 per transaction. There are chances that even the consumer will have to pay for the convenience of this system, as it will save him the trouble of travelling all the way to the nearest depot. “A nominal service charge might become applicable for consumers using the franchisee system,” said a BEST official on the condition of anonymity.
The BEST recently started the e-payment system as a first phase, where consumers can make online electricity bill payments using their credit or debit cards. Here, too, there is a surcharge one has to pay. Making payments at shops and malls are part of the second phase for the BEST.
In the third and last phase for making bill payments simpler, the BEST administration is looking at exploring the option of making payments via an SMS on the mobile phone. “We have not been able to find agencies capable enough of carrying out this huge project that would allow people to make payments with help of their mobile phones,” the BEST official said.