Prepaid Billing|Prepaid Billing Software|Prepaid Billing System

A prepaid billing software system is the billing software designed for handling various prepaid charging scenarios. In this page, we will understand the prepaid billing model better and have a look at EarnBill’s Prepaid Billing Solution and Features.

What is a Prepaid Billing?

Prepaid Billing is a mechanism of applying charges such that the users are charged upfront (in advance) before they use the product or service. In fact, unless the users pay for their services in advance, they are not given any access to the service.

The prepaid system of charging could be applied for recurring charges as well as the one time consumption charges.
Both the prepaid charging models are explained here:

Prepaid Recurring Charges (Prepaid Rental + Postpaid Usage)

You could pay your monthly recurring charges in a prepaid manner, whereas pay for your usage in a postpaid manner. This is typically true for your electricity or power bills where the rental is charged to you on a monthly basis in a prepaid manner but the consumption charges are based on your actual utilisation of the electricity or power.

Prepaid Consumption Charges (Truly Prepaid Service)

In a truly prepaid billing scenario, the user pays in advance and keeps a balance in the account with the service provider. This balance is tracked and deducted with the utilisation of the service in question. Once the balance is deducted and reduced to zero, the service to the user will stop automatically. The service would be resumed if there is a payment from the user’s side to recharge the account balance again.

Prepaid Billing Software System in Telecommunications

When we are talking about Prepaid Billing System applied in the telecom billing context, the focus is on the consumption rating and deduction of a prepaid quota. This would be under the category of the ‘Truly Prepaid Service’  mentioned above.

A typical telecom billing prepaid scenario would involve the user topping up his or her account with the telecom service provider by making an upfront payment. This payment is done against the plan that the user chooses from a set of available plans. The user would choose a plan that meets the usage needs of the user and also factoring in the cost of each plan.

Once the user has a sufficient balance or quota in his or her account, then the particular telecom service could be used by the user. The telecom billing system uses the prepaid billing software feature to track and update the user’s quota as the user consumes the service. If the quota or balance is exhausted, the service is temporarily suspended by the underlying prepaid billing software.

EarnBill’s Prepaid Billing Software Solution and Features

EarnBill is a complete ‘Convergent Billing System‘ – meaning it can cater to a number of different services for the same account irrespective of whether they are prepaid or postpaid services. Still, EarnBill can be configured to be used as a purely Prepaid Billing Software if needed, meeting the client’s prepaid billing system needs (without losing the support for the postpaid scenarios). EarnBill provides an out-of-box prepaid billing solution that allows users to configure the prepaid billing model with ease.

In order to configure the Prepaid Billing Solution, the following key features need to be set up in the system to map the client’s requirements:

  • Configuring the Product Catalogue to configure the Prepaid Billing Plans
  • Setting up Prepaid Customers in the system with the right configurations and parameters for prepaid charging.
  • Prepaid Subscriptions – Subscribing the Prepaid Customers to the Prepaid Plans when the customers sign up and choose their plans.
  • Allowing flexible Recharge Options to add the balance to the account.
  • A Private Wallet system to maintain the user’s balance.
  • Configuring an Online Charging System that can track the live stream of usage and deduct the usage quota from the system, online and real time.
  • Providing Financial Reports expected out of a Prepaid Billing Solution.
Prepaid Billing Software System

Prepaid Billing Plans

The prepaid plan offering is typically structured in such a way that there are a number of plans starting from a low cost economy plan with low usage quota and going up to a high cost, very high usage support plan. In mobile services, a typical prepaid plan could entail a fixed recharge fee and provide a fixed quota of local calls, national calls, SMS and mobile data.

For example

Plan Fee Internet Quota Voice Quota SMS Quota
Small Plan $ 25 Fee 25 GB of Data 100 Local and National Calls 100 SMS Quota
Medium Plan $ 50 Fee 60 GB of Data 250 Local and National Calls 250 SMS Quota
Large Plan $ 75 Fee 100 GB of Data 500 Local and National Calls 500 SMS Quota

 

In each of the above mentioned examples, the prepaid plans would have an expiry period. This would ensure that the user will need to finish using the available quota before the expiry date or validity date. Typically, there would be a 30 days (or 1 month) validity period on plans.

With EarnBill’s comprehensive Product Catalogue, it is possible to create very innovative offerings. For example, you could have an existing set of plans like the Small/Medium/Large plans shown above. Your company could target an entirely different customer base with an offering of ‘Extra Small Plan’, where you provide 10 GB data in a $10 plan, but provide automatic data boosts of 1 GB each for extra $2 per GB. Similarly, you could offer an ‘Extra Large Plan’ by offering more services included in the quota for a slight increase in price.

Prepaid Customers

Setting  up prepaid customers is very easy in EarnBill. You can set up different account types to cover different types of customer base that your organisation has. For example, a retail telecom service provider can set up account types as individuals, corporate, students, social organisations, governmental agencies etc. Under each account type, it would be possible to set up the billing cycles, invoice template design, contact information fields and payment methods.

Prepaid Subscriptions

A prepaid subscription is set up when the user subscribes to a service. A prepaid subscription is enabled when the user subscribes to a prepaid plan by doing a top up or a recharge transaction. When a subscription is created in EarnBill, it is essentially setting up the rules of how that particular prepaid plan would work for the user.

It sets up the quota tracking records for the user and sends a message to the provisioning service to enable the particular service and the associated asset identifier/number (mobile/fixed line or any other associated service) on the network.

Recharge Options

A prepaid billing software needs to offer flexible recharge options. EarnBill comes with an out-of-box recharge feature that gives a good deal of flexibility to you as a telecom service provider or an ISP etc. EarnBill’s recharge option is designed to cater to the needs of front desk personnel to use this option swiftly to add recharge amounts based on customer requests.

Also, there is flexibility to extend the front desk recharge option to your reseller outlets, with coverage for role based security, and allowing for resellers to be created in the system as agencies or simply as your outlets. The recharge option on the EarnBill User Interface also gives an out-of-box function to print the payment receipts.

It is very easy to extend the Recharge function in EarnBill to support multiple payment methods that are used in your region/country. Extensions such as scanning QR codes or using credit cards can be easily tied up. All recharge options, including various payment methods such as cash, credit cards and bank accounts, can be configured and enabled using EarnBill’s flexible API interface.

Private Wallet

EarnBill provides an out-of-box private wallet feature that allows the telecom service provider to allow multiple services to consume and use the same account level wallet. When a recharge is made by the user, the private wallet is credited and its balance is increased. If there is a service for which the recharge is made, the balance is moved to such service and the wallet balance brought down.

Online Charging System

As a complete prepaid billing solution, EarnBill provides a flexible, scalable and robust Online Charging System or OCS as it is abbreviated. EarnBill’s prepaid billing solution uses OCS to accept usage traffic sent over radius or diameter protocols and can perform the function of a triple-A based (AAA) accounting and charging system. Triple-A stands for AAA, i.e. Authentication, Authorisation and Accounting.

EarnBill’s OCS is a scalable system that can handle huge traffic loads without any charging related issues. The OCS system is designed with the latest technology stack that ticks the boxes like high availability and also has DR (Disaster Recovery) capabilities.

The function of the OCS system is to track and update the quotas maintained on the user’s subscriptions, based on the real time usage by the user. If the balance or the quota is not sufficient to continue the usage, then the radius or diameter traffic is responded with insufficient quota/balance response, thus stopping the service to the end user from the network level. Once a recharge is made by the end user, the quota is replenished and the service resumes as OCS system finds sufficient quota or balance in the account.

Prepaid Billing Reports

The financial reports are a crucial part of any prepaid billing software. Since the prepaid billing transactions for recharge are taking place through the software, the records are maintained in the transaction log and provide detailed information about such transactions.

There are various revenue reports available out of box such as detailed recharge reports, payment method summary, region/state/governorate wise summary, users not recharged for last 3 months/6 months, users with over payments and more, least used plans, and more.