The risk of bad debt is a perennial issue for energy suppliers, but prepayment approaches are typically expensive and difficult to sell.Managed Credit from Siemens offers a cost-effective alternative to prepayment energy without the risk of standard credit offers. Siemens Managed Credit runs your smart meters in credit mode but maintains a Central Wallet via a smartphone or website. This removes the need for costly additional hardware, reduces payment transaction costs and puts your customers in control.
The risk of bad debt is on the rise for energy suppliers.
The number and value of non-payments has increased, with energy suppliers reporting both a rise in direct debit cancellations and in customers lowering their direct debit payments. Citizens Advice estimate that between February 2020 and December 2020, 600,000 more households were behind on their energy bills, leading the energy regulator to approve an uplift to the domestic energy price cap. Credit risk concerns have also forced energy suppliers to place high security deposit requirements upon small businesses, resulting in higher tariffs, an issue which has attracted concern from the regulator.
Prepayment: the traditional, but costly solution to bad debt risk
48% of households would be interested in a smart prepayment solution, but approximately, only 16% of households are on prepayment tariffs - Research, Smart Energy GBThis highlights customer appetites for new approaches to energy tariffs and the opportunity for suppliers to reduce the risk of bad debt.
Although prepayment addresses credit risk, it can be costly and difficult to sell. Whilst smart metering technology has the potential to improve its appeal, it relies on costly in home displays (IHDs) or Prepayment Meter Interface Devices (PPMIDs) for customers to understand balances. These are expected to cost energy suppliers £65 million over the course of the smart metering roll out.
Smart prepayment requires customers to separately top up their electricity and gas meters. Each top up incurs a transaction charge for the energy supplier. Topping up individual gas and electricity accounts cost energy suppliers £35 million in transaction fees, and £52 million in commission payments annually.
Smart or traditional prepayment does not allow a customer to understand their balance whilst on the move. Gas meters often disconnect in summer months, only to build up significant standing charges which present surprises to customers when they top up again in the autumn. Prepayment customers therefore typically make greater demands on customer services, costing suppliers a further £64 million every year.
Furthermore, the energy regulator recently placed obligations upon energy suppliers to carefully manage self-disconnection and self-rationing, a challenge with traditional prepayment customers, of which 14% self-disconnect each year.
A smarter solution: Siemens Managed Credit
Siemens Managed Credit provides an answer to these problems.
Leveraging existing smart metering technology, Managed Credit delivers an innovative Central Wallet on a smartphone or website, removing the need for an IHD or PPMID. The Central Wallet allows customers to manage their gas and electricity in one energy account. The Managed Credit solution:
- Significantly reduces payment transaction costs for the energy supplier
- Increases visibility of customer energy usage to limit self-disconnection
- Provides customers greater insight into their energy usage, reducing reliance on customer services
Managed Credit platform interface
Managed Credit, now with commission-free payments
We have partnered with IT and business consulting services firm CGI, whose open banking payments solution with fintech start up Ordo, is now compatible with the Managed
Credit Central Wallet to allow commission free payments.
A pioneer of technological innovation with nearly 6,000 consultants in the utilities sector worldwide, CGI supports energy retailers to transform operations, drive cost efficiencies and improve the customer experience on their journey towards Net Zero.
The CGI Ordo solution allows energy suppliers to securely request payments from customers in real-time, via direct bank-to-bank transfer. This can significantly reduce payment card and reconciliation fees on every transaction, generating significant savings for both supplier and customer.
Managed Credit benefits your business and your customers
Credit risk management is a real issue for energy suppliers alongside ongoing pressures to compete with more digitally rich offerings. Managed Credit is a compelling alternative to typical credit and prepayment arrangements and has the potential to play a major role in helping energy suppliers to lower their operational costs, differentiate and grow.”Nick Jones, Strategic Portfolio Lead, Siemens
Managed Credit is an excellent opportunity for energy suppliers to build upon their existing standard credit, direct debit and prepayment offers for domestic and small business customers alike.
The solution is highly scalable and can cover both large supplier estates as an alternative to smart prepayment, as well as providing an innovative approach to prepayment for challenger brands.
At CGI, many of our clients, especially those issuing large volumes of bills, or looking for better ways to serve prepay customers, are considering Request to Pay platforms like Ordo. Ordo provides a cheap, secure and customer-friendly way of taking payments, particularly when Direct Debit is not appropriate or when payment cards prove expensive and (especially with Strong Authentications requirements) inconvenient for customers.Phil Skinner, CGI UK Director Open Banking Payments
How does it work?
Daily register reads help maintain energy balance
The Managed Credit application takes daily register reads from smart meters to maintain a customers’ Central Wallet balance on their smartphone, facilitating alerts and auto top ups. This ensures customers are always aware of their energy credit, reduces the risk of self-disconnection and limits their need to contact customer service.
Integration with existing DCC adapter
Managed Credit integrates with your existing DCC adapter to link up with your existing CRM and supporting infrastructure.
Leverages open banking capabilities
A range of payment options are available, including facilities from the CGI Ordo open source software product which provides bank-to-bank transfer, removing the payment commission of 1%.
Our research shows that businesses need alternatives to direct debit if they are going to serve all their customers at this difficult time. Ordo helps them give customers more control, without losing financial control themselves. Our Open Banking enabled services provide a lower cost, safer and more efficient alternative to card and paper bill processing. Now, with Siemens and CGI, even more partners and end customers can benefit from Ordo’s solutions.Craig Tillotson, CEO of Ordo
Credit energy without the risk, prepayment energy without the cost
With suppliers required by license to roll out smart meters in the next three years, Managed Credit offers a low-cost, customer-centric additional alternative to standard smart prepayment offerings.
Speak to a Siemens advisor today for more information.