The government of India may soon be launching Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) for rural areas to take leverage of a unified system. According to the reports, the platform will make digital transactions easier for people living in rural areas by providing a single place to pay for all the government utility payments. This platform is powered by CSC, Common Service Centre, which amounts to about two lakh CSC’s according to an Economic Times report. This feature is expected to start next month.
BBPS was started as a pilot program in August to test the system and was long in development before the decision of demonetisation took place. National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) on their website said that this is a major undertaking to shift 70 percent of the Rs 6,223 billion in payments in top 20 cities in India to online payment by providing them with a unified way.
BBPS will be run by authorised Bharat Bill Payment Central Unit (BBPCU) which will be responsible for setting up standards, procedures and rules. According to the details, NPCI is one of the Central Units, and it has invited existing bill aggregators and banks to take on the role of Operating Unit (BBPOU).
The platform will come with launch support to pay electricity, water, gas, telephone and DTH bills. It will later expand to add payments of school and college fees, subscription, insurance, mutual funds, credit card bills, government, charity and one-time payments as detailed in the BBPS blueprint. BBPS is an RBI mandated system to modernise and improve the bill payment system in India
CSC CEO, Dinesh Kumar Tyagi added that the CSC integration with BBPS is complete and they are waiting for the audit by NPCI to check if the system is secure and ready for a public launch. He further added that they have about 2.25 lakh CSCs with about 1.5 lakh of them present in panchayats and rest spread across semi-rural and semi-urban areas. The organisation is aiming at growing this number to 2.5 lakh.
BBPS will not only provide accessibility and integration with BBPCU but along with the payment platform, it will provide complaint and dispute management which can be settled or cleared using a standard process. The system will provide Internet, Mobile, POS, MPOS, KIOSK, ATM, Bank Branch, Business Correspondents and Agents which will be the channels of payments. It will further offer cash, credit card, debit card, IMPS, Internet banking, NEFT, Prepaid card, UPI and wallets modes of payment. It will further provide support to paying the minimum, excess, part and multiple payments in addition to full payments and penalties.
The system will have six key participants which include the customer, Agents or the agent institutions, Banks, BBPCU, Aggregator or service providers and billers (the companies or institutions that are charging you the bill). One interesting thing to note is that this will cover both online payments as well as offline payments.
Offline payments will work in a different way where firstly the biller is not connected to BBPOU in real-time and is providing files of expected bills to BBPOU. The payments will happen according to the bill information submitted by the biller. The second way is where the biller is not connected to BBPOU, and the BBPOU receives all the bill payment requests for the biller without validation.
The framework of the online BBPS is detailed where BBPOU will take the money from the agent or the customer and sent the information to the biller (and the sub-biller in the case). Then the biller sents the relevant data to BBPOU which in turn sends a confirmation to the customer or the agent. All the data is forwarded to the BBPOU’s secondary system which sends the data to NPCI. The offline BBPS payments differ a bit where the BBPOU sends the data to NPCI which transmits the payment to second BBPOU system to forward the biller for confirmation in return.
The BBPOU system is segregated into two three parts where the first and last part belongs either to the BBPOU agent or the BBPOU biller separated by the central BBPCU. This system remains somewhat similar both in the case of fetching a bill as well as payment confirmations. NPCI has already baked in Bill Fetch and Payment Message APIs in the product.