Landis+Gyr introduces scratch cards for prepayment electricity vending

“Landis+Gyr's ‘Scratch Power’ cards work in much the same manner as the cellphone scratch cards,” says Mark de Kock, Landis+Gyr's product manager (systems). “The scratch card is purchased by consumers at convenient outlets such as petrol garages, shops and retail outlets. On purchasing a scratch card in a denomination of their choice, the consumer simply scratches the foil area at the back of the card to reveal a PIN number. Using their cellphone the consumer simply sends an SMS text message containing their prepayment meter serial number plus the scratch card PIN number, to the cellphone number printed on the scratch card. Shortly thereafter, the consumer receives a kWh credit transfer number via SMS which they enter into their prepayment meter to obtain the electricity credit.”

There are two main benefits of the scratch card for the purchase of prepayment electricity. Firstly it provides a major advantage to the consumer in that the purchase of prepayment electricity is no longer limited to the point-of-sale facilities or the utility vending points available. With the introduction of scratch cards, the utility can distribute these cards to vendors of their choice throughout the town or village, making it easy and convenient as the consumer no longer needs to travel to traditional vending points that involves extra time and transport costs.

Secondly, the scratch card system provides a major benefit for the utility in that it reduces the cost of making prepayment vending facilities available to the consumer. With the Scratch Power system, the vendor requires absolutely no computer hardware or point-of-sale devices as the processing and encryption of the prepayment vouchers is done at the main prepayment back-office, which is already managed by the utility system administrator. All transactions are on-line and visible to the utility management. This saves the utility the burden of extensive technical support and ongoing training of vendor staff.

Mark de Kock explains how the system works. “The Scratch Power system interfaces to the utility's existing Landis+Gyr Suprima system via the e-Vend server, therefore implementation is simple and cost-effective. An additional requirement is the purchase and installation of the Scratch Power server which comprises a software module and hardware. The system can be managed by the utility’s prepayment system administrator and only minimal training of the utility’s prepayment staff is required.

“Scratch Power is a prepayment electricity vending solution for areas with GSM coverage, but with no on-line vending points. The consumer's cellphone communicates with the Scratch Power server via the GSM network and this server communicates with the Suprima e-Vend server to generate the credit transfer number which it then communicates back to the consumer's cellphone via SMS.”

Utilities purchase scratch card batches from Landis+Gyr customised with their logo and design preferences, on an ongoing basis, according to retailer orders and demand. The utility in turn allocates and delivers card batches to the retailers after receiving payment and the retailers sell the cards to consumers at the value printed on the scratch card. Prior to this, retailers negotiate their commission or mark-up with the utility.

“The management of Scratch Power by the utility takes place via a web browser interface enabling personnel to easily manage the system via the LAN/WAN. SMS Services can be made use of on the internet as well as via locally connected GSM modems.

“In situations where electricity load shedding disables point-of-sale outlets, a Scratch Power solution can provide uninterrupted vending functionality to consumers, provided that the utility back-office is still powered (via UPS or conventional supply) and the GSM network is still functional.

“Scratch Power therefore provides an excellent opportunity for existing owners of Suprima systems to further improve their service delivery to end-users, in spite of any electricity power supply challenges,” concludes Mark de Kock.

For further information, contact:
Mark de Kock, Product Manager (Systems)
Landis+Gyr (Pty) Ltd
switchboard: +27 11 921 7900
phone direct: +27 11 921 7923
fax direct: +27 11 921 7437