Customers of Georgia Power can now get a barcode that will enable them to pay their bills in cash at retail stores.
PayGo Utilities, a company that specializes in utility payments, has partnered with InComm and their VanillaDirect technology to create a barcode that customers can print out or load onto a smart phone. They can take that barcode to participating InComm retailers and it can be scanned like any other item in a store at the checkout register. The bill is then added to the total just like milk or bread. Once the payment is made, the utility provider is immediately notified that the customer has paid. This system can be used for both prepaid and postpaid utility customers.
The service provides three benefits for retailers. First, it gives them another service to offer their customers and could increase foot traffic as people come in to pay their bills in real time. The second benefit is that it enables retailers to offer bill payments without needing to send people to a customer service counter or disrupt their normal shopping routine.
The third benefit comes from the way the barcode is linked directly to the customers’ account. In many cases, bill payments in retail centers are only processed at the end of the day. So customers think a bill has been paid, but the utility provider doesn’t receive the payment until much later. In cases where the customer has received a cut-off notice, an immediate payment is critical, but the batching may leave the customer annoyed with the retailer. The PayGo system allows for immediate recognition of the payment.
Georgia Power also benefits because the system can help reduce delinquencies and power cut-offs. They also receive payment faster than with traditional in-store bill payments. Additionally, company representatives say that offering more ways to pay bills increases customer satisfaction. The company also can allow customers to pay bills in person outside of the regular business hours when its own bill pay offices would be closed.
The PayGo payments can be made at Family Dollar and Dollar General stores. The stores use the InComm VanillaDirect solution to facilitate the payments. InComm plans to recruit more retailers to participate in the program and expect that participation will increase as more locations become available.