BTC Bahamas 4G network supports prepaid electric top-ups in Caribbean first

Bahamians could soon be using their mobile phone wallets to buy prepaid electricity or pay their utility bills, thanks to an initiative from local telco BTC Bahamas.

The Cable & Wireless Communications subsidiary has begun testing how its 4G LTE network and existing prepaid infrastructure could be used together with smart prepayment meters to allow utility customers to top up their accounts and monitor their energy usage.

BTC Bahamas prepaid electric meter
Electricity smart meter – Source: BTC Bahamas

The system would enable customers to buy electricity credit using their mobile wallet, wherever BTC top-up is available, online and via the BTC Call Centre. Consumers would also be able to check their energy usage on their smart phones, as well as receive low-balance notifications when their credit is running low.

BTC is currently working with utility provider St. George’s Cay Power on a ‘proof of concept’ trial in the Spanish Wells district.

Morris Pinder, CEO at St. George’s Cay Power, said, “We have been using the BTC prepaid metering solution for about a month now, and so far everything is going well. We have two meters that we are testing. In Spanish Wells we have several business owners that operate rental units. Prepaid metering will be beneficial to these customers as renters will be responsible for their power usage. I’m certain that it will also be beneficial for persons that may have problems paying for electricity.”

BTC expects to complete its proof of concept over the next few months, before offering the solution to local utility providers. Later this year, the telco will also develop a similar solution for prepaid water metering.

The initiative to leverage BTC’s communications and IT infrastructure to support utility prepayment service is a first of its kind for the Caribbean, although there are some similar systems elsewhere. Last year, mobile network operator Digicel revealed it had extended its prepaid telecommunications infrastructure to allow its customers in Papua New Guinea to buy prepaid electricity using their mobile phones.