Smart Grid

November 15, 2012

PayGo Helps Utility Customers 'Fill the Bill' in Latin America

According to the World Bank, 250 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean—representing more than 60 percent of the adult population—are still unbanked and, as a consequence, unable to access plastic, checks, or other banking tools that make life easy. To pay their bills each month, they must stand on line for hours. Now, there’s a better solution for utility customers in that region.

Georgia-based PayGo has partnered with ELO Sistemas Electronicas, an electronic metering provider based in Porto Alegre, Brazil, to bring prepayment and post-payment smart meter applications to customers in 16 Latin American countries. The deal combines ELO’s smart metering expertise with PayGo’s patent-pending software billing applications, as well as its cloud-based customer enrollment system.

The agreement will integrate the PayGo platform with ELO smart meters to help Latin American utility customers increase their ability to manage when, where, and how they pay for energy, as well as to help them to reduce their energy spend. Indeed, industry studies suggest that prepaid participants save as much as 10 percent on electricity.

PayGo’s firmware is embedded in either a smart meter or the NIC (News - Alert) (network interface card) of the deployed communications network. Once activated via a downloadable key, PayGo uses its distributed intelligent logic and processing power to pass transactions between the utility, the consumer and the payment processing network.

Designed for full AMI deployments or point-to-point prepay service in existing AMR solutions, PayGo delivers cost savings to utilities and higher customer satisfaction and control for customers.

With PayGo, customers can contact the utility to “top up” their account directly with a mobile device, make online payments, recharge at various retail outlets, or use a number of additional payment methods. The PayGo solution calculates the consumer’s actual consumption at the meter and alerts customers in real-time as they reach predetermined spending levels.

The platform comprises six easy steps:

  • Install: The utility places remote disconnect meters in the field with PayGo inside the meter
  • Enroll: The customer enrolls by activating a downloadable key
  • Rate: PayGo downloads the chosen tariff (rate) and payment amount to the meter, enabling it to activate power and begin to count down
  • Payment: The customer makes a payment to his or her account via phone, walk-in center, retail store, or online
  • Meter: The meter continuously calculates the customer’s balance–providing accurate, real-time account information
  • Alert: Configurable alerts, consistent with utility rules, inform customers when they need to reload their meters with additional funds.

“Latin American utilities are about to begin the wholesale adoption of smart meter technologies with the installation of a large number of smart meters in Brazil,” said Marcos Rizzo, ELO vice president of Business Development. “ELO will be the first supplier in the region to incorporate PayGo’s ‘real-time’ technology in the meter— which validates our vision to be an energy industry platform for the next-generation smart grid. Utilities will benefit [from] reduced operational costs and the ability to provide additional customer services, which results in increased customer satisfaction.”

The two companies are now integrating ELO’s smart meter portfolio with the PayGo applications and technology. The ELO electronic meter combined with the PayGo applications will be made available to existing and future ELO advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) partners. The joint effort covers Brazil and 15 other Latin American countries where ELO has a leading market presence.

“ELO is the leading metering provider in Brazil and is well-positioned for growth in Latin America,” said David Elve, chief marketing officer for PayGo. “This partnership builds on PayGo’s success in serving some of the largest utilities in North America, while sharpening our focus on the global opportunities. PayGo’s ‘real-time’ accuracy and integrated payment processing suite uniquely support utilities and their customers”.