National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), a bank owned non-profit, which operates payments systems like IMPS and UPI, has received the final authorisation letter from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to function as the Bharat Bill Payment Central Unit (BBPCU) and operate the Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS). Bill payments such as electricity, telecom, DTH, Water and Gas are permitted under the bill payment system.

A BBPCU is the entity responsible for clearing and settling activities related to transactions routed
through bill payment systems, and setting up the operational, technical and business standards for the entire system. It will have to put in place a dispute resolution mechanism to handle disputes arising between system participants, and ensure the setting up of a suitable fraud and risk management framework for the BBPS. That NPCI was going to get this role was fairly obvious.

The entities that connect to this system are called BBPOUs (BBP operating units), which are entities authorised to create an agent network for bill payments. These can be banks and non bank entities. 8 such billing units took part in a pilot with the NPCI for a year. The NPCI said that a bulk of the payments were towards electricity bills, and only around 10% of the 180 million electricity bill payments are digital. “The likelihood of meeting the target of generating 25 billion digital transactions during the current financial year depends critically on the power sector getting on-boarded on BBPS system”, it said. Together, Electricity, Telecom, DTH, Water and Gas account for 450 million bills.

As of now, 24 bill payment operating entities have been authorised, including 18 banks and 6 non bank entities. State Bank of India is still awaiting certification, the NPCI said. Non-bank entities that we know about include PayU, Oxigen, Itz Cash, Spice Digital, the government’s Common Services Centres (CSC). Guess we missed one. One company that did get a BBPOU license and returned it was Citrus Pay, which was acquired by PayU. The NPCI said that 42 billers in 5 utility sectors have been on-boarded.