EghtesadOnline: As Iranian electricity and telecommunication companies move toward scrapping paper billing and switching to an electronic system, other utility companies, along with Tehran Municipality, have also adopted the same policy.
According to the latest report by Peivast.com, National Water and Wastewater Engineering Company, National Iranian Gas Company and Tehran Municipality have decided to stop issuing paper bills in the near future.
The water company has announced plans to digitize its billing system by 2021, while the gas company will do so in two months.
However, TM is determined to completely stop its paper billing by the end of the current fiscal year (March 2020), Financial Tribune reported.
ICT Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi had earlier told reporters that the nationwide switch to the electronic billing system for all utility services (water, power, gas and landline and mobile phones) will save 14.4 trillion rials ($123.6 million) annually, which is currently spent on printing paper bills.
Accordingly, a scheme for switching from paper to digital billing was unveiled in Tehran by the Energy Ministry in June.
A pilot project of the electronic billing scheme was launched by Telecommunications Company of Iran in July 2017 and six million of the company’s subscribers received their bills via text messages.
TCI is planning to implement the scheme nationwide by the end of September. The company has 29.5 million subscribers.
According to recent updates by TCI, the country’s sole landline service provider, landline subscribers in Khuzestan, Sistan-Baluchestan, Fars, Kerman, Gilan, Lorestan, Hormozgan and Kurdestan do not receive paper bills anymore.
Instead of paper bills, TCI sends text messages to subscribers.
Mohammad Reza Bidkham, TCI’s communications and international relations officer, said the company is gathering subscribers' data to gradually eliminate paper bills throughout the country.
However, he added that the company should still be able to print periodic reports for subscribers, if necessary.
The landline telephony subscribers will be able to pay their bills by sending their receipt's serial number to 2000, or by visiting the website TCI.ir, or dialing USSD code *2020# on their mobile phones.
Bidkham said the cost of paper and printing bills has registered an eightfold jump compared with a year ago, similar to the prices of other commodities in the domestic market.
He noted that switching to electronic billing in merely 10 provinces will save up to 1 trillion rials ($8.5 million) in paper billing costs.
TCI says issuing paper bills for around 30 million subscribers annually costs 3.6 trillion ($30.9 million).
"The scheme will significantly reduce the figure," Bidkham said.
Tehran Province Electricity Distribution Company is another company expediting the implementation of the scheme.
Hossein Sabouri, the company's CEO, told the media that over 95% of electricity subscribers in the capital have registered their cellphone numbers in the company’s database.
"At present, about 1.2 million users in Tehran receive bills via text message," he said.
He called on the public to join the move since the old paper billing system will be scrapped in a few weeks across the country.
"To register with the database, subscribers can send a text message to 50001521 and enter their information as required," he added.
The scheme has already been launched in Qazvin Province as a pilot project.
Iran's Power Generation, Distribution and Transmission Company (Tavanir) has announced that scrapping paper billing would annually save up to 1.5 trillion rials ($12.8 million).
In addition to curbing overheads, a major advantage of switching to electronic billing is the environmental benefit of reducing paper use.
According to official reports, Iran’s per capita paper consumption annually is 25 kilograms. Twelve trees should be felled to produce 1 ton of 100% non-recycled newsprint.