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Bahrain set to launch bill payments by mobile phone

EXCLUSIVE: Gulf state's eGovernment Authority chief reveals new power bill initiative for Sept.

Bahrain residents will soon be able to pay their electricity and water bills using their mobile telephones, in the latest of a series of eGovernment initiatives on the island state.

By the beginning of September, customers will be able to use their handsets to settle utilities accounts. Currently, residents are only able to use their mobiles to check the amount they owe.

“We will launch the service before the end of August,” Mohamed Ali Al Qaed, CEO of Bahrain’s eGovernment Authority (eGA), told Arabian Business in an interview.

“We wanted to make sure that we had the right security in place before we allowed people to pay on their mobiles,” he continued. “Now we have a new model that will be totally secure.”

In addition to utilities bill payment, mobile users will be granted 23 other services before the end of August. These will include facilities to conduct detailed searches for hotels and restaurants, to consult a Daily Price Index, and even ‘Refuse Bag Status Tracking’.

The eGA already offers customers 17 services on their mobile phones, including real-time flight arrival and departure information, specialist medical services searches, and postal tracking.

By the end of the year, according to Al Qaed, there will be 50 services available.

Bahrain’s eGovernment initiatives have attracted widespread acclaim, and the UN recently selected Al Qaed to represent Arab countries and West Asia on the Strategic Council for Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID), part of the United Nations Dept. for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA).

Al Qaed is the first Gulf national to hold such a position.