Pre-Pay metering programs have been around for many years and while there has been a growing interest among North American utilities, adoption rates for these programs have never quite taken off. This trend stands to change however, with the growing number of smart meter deployments across the industry and there are a number of Pre-Pay software providers who are positioning themselves to take advantage of these new market opportunities. Five Point recently had the opportunity to visit the offices of PayGo Electric, an Atlanta-based Pre-Pay software company, to learn more about their product’s capabilities and the evolution of Pre-Pay services for smart utility customers.
Pre-Pay metering programs have become more appealing to both utilities and their customers in these uncertain economic times. For customers, a Pre-Pay option allows them to bypass the payment of costly deposits for service as well as any reconnection fees associated with disconnection for unpaid bills. By paying for their energy in advance, they become empowered to monitor their usage and therefore control the cost of their bills. For utilities, Pre-Pay programs allow them an option for mitigating the amount of bad debt that they must write off each year as a result of unpaid bills, as well as a way to more fully realize the benefits of their smart meter investments. Companies like PayGo Electric have continually improved their Pre-Pay offering to provide added incentives for utilities to consider adoption.
PayGo offers a solution that enables Pre-Pay, postpay and mobile pay in near real time. With an online portal that is also available via mobile devices, customers can arm and disarm their meters virtually, add money to their account and even set up notification preferences so that they can be notified when their balance reaches below a certain threshold either by email or text. Customers can monitor their usage in almost real time for multiple meters and even set up their own payment plans in the system if their account becomes past due during times of extreme heat or cold.
By giving so much control to the customer, PayGo’s clients see definitive decreases in their call center load as well as increases in customer satisfaction.
PayGo’s software is also meter agnostic, as it is already utilized with the top metering manufacturers’ products. PayGo is a Merchant Services Provider (MSP) as well, which enables utility customers to pay in a variety of different places and methods and allows PayGo to process bill payments for both Pre-Pay and postpay utility customers. PayGo accepts a wide variety of payment options including gift cards and general-purpose reloadable cards for customers who do not have bank accounts.
By Lisa Hartley, Client Development Manager, Five Point