Toowoomba to go paperless for rates and water bills

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Tuesday, 20 February, 2018

Toowoomba Regional Council has become the first organisation in Australia to launch digital bill delivery from Australian bank-agnostic payments and billing app Sniip.

The new m-billing function will alert ratepayers of pending council rates and water bills via push notifications to their smartphones.

The end-to-end paperless solution is expected to allow the council to drastically reduce overheads and cut its carbon footprint, shorten bill payment times and simplify bill payments for ratepayers.

In addition, the council’s deployment follows calls by the Treasury to stop banks, energy providers and telcos charging punitive fees to negatively coerce consumers away from paper billing, and demonstrates that the effect can be achieved through positive reinforcement instead.

The council was the first to pioneer Sniip's “scan to pay” functionality in 2015, which allows bill recipients to scan a QR code and pay via the app but continue to receive paper bills. Now the council is moving towards a fully digital solution.

“Like any Australian council, we are dedicated to serving the needs of our residents, and are constantly seeking out new ways to improve their lives, including using innovation to create more options for making payments,” Toowoomba Regional Council General Manager for Finance and Business Strategy Arun Pratap said.

“We understand that keeping on top of bill payments can be stressful for many Australians, who want to pay on time, but who often have so much else going on in their lives that sometimes things slip through the cracks. We fully believe we’re making their lives easier by offering m-billing, while also helping the environment and reducing ratepayer-funded council overheads.”

Sniip CEO Damien Vasta added that mobile push notifications address many of the shortcomings of previous attempts to address billing and payments problems through the introduction of online solutions.

“The confusion for customers mistaking email bills for junk mail or spam has actually increased numbers of late payments, while payers typically still need to open a PDF, go to a different website to pay and repeatedly input large amounts of information,” he said.

“M-billing eliminates every one of these issues. Push notifications are seen instantly and can be actioned in seconds. There’s no need to input further information after the app is set up, data is stored with bank-grade security that can’t be hacked and all payment history is stored for future reference. The key is to seamlessly integrate the bill-receiving and bill-payment functions.”

Sniip was founded in 2013 as Australia’s first completely integrated and bank-agnostic payments and billing solution provider. The Brisbane-based company has also seen its scan-to-pay functionality adopted by Gympie Regional Council, Brisbane City Council and Queensland Urban Utilities.

For enhanced security, no payment information is stored on any database or server. Credit or debit card data is instead encrypted and securely stored on a user’s mobile device, as with Apple Pay and Google Pay.

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