The prepaid electric metering market is steadily gaining ground, in part because of advanced smart meters and utility back-office processes that can remotely enable customers to pay for electricity ahead of usage if they so choose, according to a report from Navigant Research.
Prepay is also gaining ground because some customers find it to be a convenient way of better managing their budgets, according to the Navigant report “Prepaid Metering.”
However, the trend is playing out in different ways depending on the market and geography. In North America, a tiny fraction of customers use prepay, though it has made some inroads, particularly among cooperatives that have made it a priority. In Europe, prepayment is common in some areas such as the United Kingdom, with about 15 percent of customers using this method, but is much lower elsewhere in the region. In southern Africa and some countries in Asia Pacific, the use and deployment of conventional prepaid metering systems is well-established and growing.
Navigant Research expects the global installed base of prepaid metering customers to grow from 31.7 million in 2014 to 85.2 million in 2024, with a compound annual growth rate of 10.4 percent. The region with the most prepay customers is expected to be Asia Pacific, where countries like Indonesia have made prepay a priority and are deploying conventional prepaid meters at a rapid pace.
On a negative note, Research from Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy finds that commercial electricity customers who use automatic bill paying use 8 percent more power than those who did not.