For many people, keeping track of energy use and spending on a monthly basis is tricky. How could ista offer its customers a better, more flexible way of managing their energy bills?
ista launched SmartPay, a sophisticated prepayment solution that enables tenants to pay for heat and hot water in advance on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Greatercontrol over energy use and spend helps tenants to save money
Preventsbad debt by enabling tenants to pay in advance
Givestenants peace of mind with the option of registering for automatic top-ups
Business challenge story
Feeling the heatA subsidiary of ista International GmbH, ista UK provides a wide range of energy services to landlords across the United Kingdom. One such service is the metering and billing of community and district heating—the supply of heat and hot water to multiple dwellings from a centralized boiler.
Dominic Chapman, Head of IT & Data at ista UK, elaborates: “Community and district heating systems are becoming common amongst apartment blocks and housing estates. Ista UK provides a variety of services to assist landlords with metering and billing, including managing payments through to customer care.”
Previously, tenants had no way of measuring how much heat and hot water they used throughout the month. This made budgeting for household expenses difficult and meant that energy bills were often more expensive than anticipated.
“To give tenants greater visibility and control over their energy consumption, and to help prevent debt escalation, we wanted to offer a prepayment service,” says Dominic Chapman. “Many people like having the option of paying in advance for services, so we knew that offering a pay-as-you-go [PAYG] solution would make us more attractive to landlords and tenants alike.”
Moving billing to the cloudTo give tenants a more flexible approach to managing their energy bills, ista UK launched an innovative prepayment solution called ista SmartPay.
Hosted in the cloud, the ista SmartPay billing portal enables tenants to make secure online payments via credit and debit cards, as well as through point-of-sale outlets. Payments are transmitted in real time to a prepayment unit installed in apartments, which displays credit and debt information for the amount of heat and hot water consumed. Account data can also be accessed via mobile devices, giving tenants a quick and convenient way to stay up-to-date with their balance.
Dominic Chapman comments: “Up-take has been good and many tenants now use ista SmartPay on a regular basis. And we only expect that number to increase as we continue to grow. Feedback has been very positive—tenants find ista SmartPay easy to use, reliable and convenient. Landlords, meanwhile, don’t have to worry about unpaid energy bills.”
Greater control, lower costsWith ista SmartPay, tenants have greater control over their energy use and costs than ever before.
“Using ista SmartPay and the online billing portal, tenants can monitor and manage their energy consumption and costs in real time,” says Dominic Chapman. “Card payments are processed instantly and account balances are automatically updated accordingly. Many other payment systems offer batch payments—which can take up to three working days to clear and register on the apartment screen. This delay causes many issues in customer support, queries and emergency credit top-ups, particularly during holidays and out-of-office hours. ista SmartPay gives tenants a fast, convenient way to pay and keep a handle on their energy use, helping them to better manage their spend on utilities.”
ista employees also benefit from having a single, unified overview of tenants’ payments, balances and energy use. “Having all of this information in one place makes life a lot easier for those managing accounts, and helps our teams provide better customer service,” remarks Dominic Chapman.
He concludes: “Offering a flexible PAYG service has boosted our appeal with both tenants and landlords. With prepayment units being installed in new builds across the UK, we are highly confident that IBM will continue providing a stellar service as more and more people start using ista SmartPay to manage their energy use and spend.”
About ista UK
A subsidiary of ista International GmbH and headquartered in Cambridge, England, ista Energy Solutions Limited is a market leader in consumption-dependent billing for energy, water and ancillary costs. ista helps property managers, home owners and tenants to meter, visualize, bill and manage individual energy and water consumption.