National Payment Aggregator (NPA)
eGovernment Authority

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The prevailing method of service delivery involved a decentralized point-to-point connectivity model which posed major challenges such as: a) Payment Transaction overview and Control issues: There was no end-to-end payment transaction overview per say prior to National Payment Aggregator (NPA) system. It was impossible to get a consolidated overview of payment transactions across all channels for a single service due to multiple payment fulfillment agencies. NPA now has brought all channels under 1 umbrella and ease of viewing transaction by service. b) Payment Transaction Traceability issue : The non-standard integration between multiple service providers created spaghetti of point-to-point connection involving complex coding and repetitive efforts in payment integration processes. NPA interface now provides single industry standard connectivity with conformity to compliance standards; providing transaction search and 360 degree view when selecting a transaction. c) Scalability & Flexibility issues: Non-standard integration became a pain as the efforts got duplicated in delivering each and every eService. Further, the efforts to test and rollout a payment services became tedious. The PSP mandate for a new compliance becomes a nightmare especially when previously enabled services needed to incorporate these compliance changes. - With the introduction of NPA, on-boarding of new eServices with ePayment facility is just easy and quick. - PSP compliances were fixed at one single point i.e. NPA. - eServices were rolled out rapidly enabling new channels for ePayment deployment. In just 6 months since launch, we have added 40 payment eServices. - Enabling secure standards (like 3D) prompted citizen’s confidence and service uptake grew. - The state of the art hardware set-up and innovative application resolved the scalability issue. d) Operational issues: • Front Office o End customers could not avail their desired combination of the service providers, channels and payment methods. o Lack of uniform experience across all channels to deliver the services. o Service providers / billers were unable to service customers across all the touch points. • Middle Office o Collating transaction data & Administering Charges / Fees o Managing multiple integrations between all stakeholders o Tracking, processing and resolving various service requests as a nodal agency • Back Office o Multi-party reconciliation, refunds, disputes and settlements. o Accounting & Automated Posting, MIS generation, Executive Dashboard/Analytics Implementation of NPA has enabled to mitigate these issues.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The National Payment Aggregator is an initiative by the eGovernment Authority for setting up a single, unified electronic payment solution across all government entities. In initiating this, the main project objectives were: a) To aggregate various payments under one system/mechanism, b) Central monitoring of payment transactions, c) Integrate multiple payment service providers, d) Bring in all govt service entities and multi-channel payments through NPA, e) Provide with standard reporting across to all services and entities, f) Provide Standard Reconciliation & Settlement processing for all entities. Values realized from this project initiative are: • Established a Single Shared Service as National Payment Platform. • Standard integration framework for all the Payment Service Providers such as Payment Service Providers, Financial houses, banks, regional payment switches, etc. • Parametric, easy and flexible methods of payment integration within services. • Built in intelligent transaction routing capabilities to select a preferred Payment Service Provider based on business rules such as least cost, availability, volume / value based pricing slabs. • Comprehensive, workflow driven reconciliation and settlement processes. • Comprehensive MIS reporting and dashboards for better visibility & internal controls • Facilities to consolidate the offline transactions from standalone channels like the Kiosks

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The eGA’s vision of achieving “Connected Governance” received a major boost through the implementation of National Payment Aggregator (NPA) as a National Shared Payment Service Platform. The National Payment Aggregator resulted in a single point of interface for all channels for facilitating payment transaction authorization; enabling citizens, residents and businesses to make their payments through popular, available payment methods within the country. The aggregation has helped in driving down payment costs levied by payment agencies. The parametric configurations helped government entities to choose and select multiple payment service providers of their choice and comfort. Thus, bringing substantial savings for the country (1% in PSP charges). Benefits are aplenty which includes: • Government burden of commission/fees lessend by slashing payment Service Provider charges • Compliance to the global security standards by enabling secure transaction processing; implementing 3-D secure and PCI-DSS compliance norms. • Improved visibility of collections for better treasury planning by the Finance. • Freeing up payment queues and contributing to overall productivity of the country. • Reducing Carbon Footprint through energy savings • Reduced cash in circulation • Inclusive eGov, a platform that brings on board all providers and brings convenience, cost savings & improves lives of all citizens

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The implementation strategy objectives were: • Adopt a regionally proven, comprehensive and COTS platform to offer risk free implementation • Ensure a smooth, timely and cost-effective deployment, • Knowledge Transfer plan such that it makes NPA team self-sufficient for supporting the installation after deployment, • Protect and leverage investment into tangible benefits, • Ensure full compliance to tendered business and technical requirements, • Ensure long term viability, scalability, sustenance and a lower TCO, • Apply technology, wherever possible to eliminate manual intervention The implementation methodology for NPA was incorporated from the learnings from successfully implementing multiple projects on time and within budget as well as borrowing best practices from the platform providing partner. eGA has an established procurement & program management office (PMO) that enables acquisition & rollout of such national projects.Besides employing SME, eGA engages professional consulting firms to frame the requirements. Through a public tender and rigorous evaluation process, eGA selects the solution partner. The chosen solution partner well satisfied above criterions with several national payment system implementations within the region. The selected solution is based on leading edge integration centric BPMS technology and supported all industry leading platforms. A strong local partner provided the required comfort to carry out SI activities and effective project coordination. eGA preferred a solution partner with successful implementations within the region with good domain knowledge, a sound delivery model governed by top of line quality and built around the latest technologies, supporting industry leading platforms. The high functional fitment, scalability and demonstrated ability to support the entire payments ecosystem with a track record of handling very large volumes and diverse messages, formats, platforms together with ability to handle online and offline connectivity were added incentives coupled with SEI CMMi Level 1.3 (highest level of quality certification) standards and a global delivery model to give us the needed comfort to deliver this key project

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The initiative conceptualized by eGA with a goal to provide - Shared Services Platform for delivering ePayment Services - centralized payment transaction repository, - Secure payment authorizations, - ReducePSP charges and commission levied on the Govt., - 360 degree view of all transactions for end-to-end transaction life cycle Project success was envisaged with key participant stakeholders such as: - eGA eServices & Channel directorate - eGA Business Process Re-engineering group (BPR) - eGA Program Management Office (PMO) - Central Informatics Organization (CIO) - All ministries / Government Agencies such as: o Electricity and Water Authority o Ministry of Culture o Ministry of Education o Ministry of Health o Ministry Of Industry and Commerce o Ministry of Interior - Customs Affairs o Ministry of Interior - General Directorate of Nationality, Passport and Residence o Ministry Of Justice & Islamic Affairs o Ministry Of Justice & Islamic Affairs - Islamic Affairs o Ministry of Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning o Ministry Of Transportation o Survey & Land Registration Bureau o University of Bahrain - Payment Service Providers such as: o Benefit Company (Debit card National Switch) o CrediMax (Credit Card Acquirer) o Batelco (Credit Card Acquirer) o Mode/Zain (eWallet) - Hardware/ Software/Application Vendors o Al Moayyed Computers (local SI vendor) o Bawhan CyberTek (Cuecent ePay solution platform provider)
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The tendered project was awarded as a turnkey solution with a budget of BD 690,000/-. Collective efforts of the eGA + consulting resources effort was approximately around to BD 250,000/-until go-live. The project was approved and funded by the MoF. In other words an initiative by the government effectively executed and delivered by the eGovernment Authority. Program Management – eGA and PMO lead the project deploying resources for strong leadership, program management & change management. Implementation – Bahwan CyberTek, the owner of Cuecent ePay platform provided a large onsite-offshore team comprising domain experts, project management, techno-functional consultants and solution & product architects. System Integration – Al Moayyed Computers, a leading local SI supplied the infrastructure components and implemented the same as per eGA requirements

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
i) Timely completion and within the budget project implementation. Meticulous planning, Defined Milestones and inter-team co-ordination met the project deliverables within the project time lines with only 1 change control request. ii) Migration of security compliance - all 2D payment methods to 3D Secure Payment methods As mandated by the PSPs, 3D compliance was scoped within the System Requirement Specification (SRS) document. All payment services connected through NPA are 3D compliant. iii) Introduction of new methods payment channel (IVR) Within short span of 3 months of operation, new channels were introduced. IVR was added to the payment channel. POC for eVouchers carried out. Payment through Internet scoped. iv) Centralized Transaction view and MIS Reporting Each service owners are given unique role based login ids to review their transaction/MIS reports. Besides, system-wide MIS reporting enabled for Admin & management group. v) Scheduler developed A common module developed to trace back transaction disconnects with PSP and the end Service systems. Thereby periodic updates done to reduce any payment discrepancies and disputes.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Two key components which led to close project activities monitoring and progress were: a)Weekly status meetings / Reporting The project manager initiated a recursive project meeting schedule with the vendor team. Besides the completed task, critical and incomplete tasks were given weightage and discussed at length the mitigation plans. Team/reports always referred to the detailed milestones, tasks and target completion. Eg: Project Milestones: (Date Planned & Actual) 1 Upon finalization of project charter and Submission of ProjectManagement Document,22-Feb-12,01-Mar-12 2 Analysis and Design-Upon Completion of Requirement Gathering & Submission of User Requirements Document 15-Mar-12,24-Mar-12 3 Analysis and Design-Upon Submission of System Requirement Specifications (SRS), High Level Architecture & Design Document.10-Apr-12 4 Analysis and Design-On Delivery of Full Functional Prototype, 10-Apr-12 5 Cuecent Licenses-On release of Licenses to BCT Dev. Team (Internal),5-Mar-12 6 Supply of System Hardware-Upon Finalization of Bill of Materials, 13-May-12,23-Apr-12 7 Supply of System Hardware-Upon Delivery ,13-May-12, 13-Jun-12 8 Supply of System Hardware-Upon Installation & Sign-off 13-May-12, 30-Jun-12 9 Supply of System Software-Upon Finalization of Bill of Materials, 13-May-12,23-Apr-12 10 Supply of System Software-Upon Delivery of Licenses 13-May-12, 21-May-12 11 Supply of System Software-Software Support 25%, 13-May-12, 21-May-12 12 Supply of System Software-Upon Installation & Sign-off 13-May-12, 25-Oct-12 13 Cuecent Licenses-On Delivery of Production License 12-Jun-12,20-Dec-12 14 Cuecent Licenses-On Installation of Prod license 12-Jun-12, 29-Dec-12 15 Product Finalization-Completion of UAT 21-Oct-12, 24-Dec-12 16Product Finalization-Go-Live, 31-Oct-12,11-Feb-13 17 Product Finalization-Software Support 25%, 31-Oct-12, 11-Feb-13 18 Support-on 50% of Support Completion, 31-Aug-13, 19 Support-on 100% of Support Completion, 31-Jan-14 Project Status Dashboards: 1Company -BCT - eGA / PMO 2Project Description -National Payment Aggregator (NPA) 3Project Overview -National Payment Aggregator for eGA 4BCT Contact Person -Srinivas K(Project manager) 5eGA Contact Person -Mark D’ Almeida(Project Manager) 6Start date -31/01/2013 7End date -31/01/2014 8Last Billing Milestone -NPA Go -Live Support

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
a)Infrastructure Hosting Although the entire project plan and the implementation plan were shared among the stakeholders slow response by some key stakeholders threatened the timely completion of hosting activities. The best solution was to cut-down the bureaucratic process by setting up 1-to-1 meetings with the concerned entities first thing in the day and list down action points, right on and publish it. This enormously cut-down the delays and pinned down responsibilities that were easy to track and close. b)Security, QA and Certification processes To ensure a highly secure environment, we introduced a Security Architecture and had to midstream procure & include Anti-virus, anti-intrusion security products into the proposed solution to comply with mandates and this posed delays in the project. We overcame the situation through personal liaison with our partners and impressed upon them the need to deploy additional onsite resources to cut back on delays.   A strong Change Control Board was established upfront for the project. This combined the QA processes of eGA/PMO and Bahwan CyberTek’s SEI CMMi Level 5 1.3 processes. The few but critical changes that were necessitated in the project were steered through change control and rolled with minimal project impact. c)Project Resources Internal – Although resources were well planned to ensure adequate staffing through the project lifecycle, owing to certain unforeseen exigencies, we were confronted with some resource shortages in some phases of the project but we overcame these minor setbacks by having the other available resources stretch & take the additional load such that the project did not suffer. Vendor – as the project entailed a few months of implementation, some of vendor’s onsite deployed staff were confronted with personal emergencies necessitating their untimely travel back to base location. The matter was dealt with compassion and the high trust and cooperation between the parties saw some immediate backup plans worked out. It was handled by arranging temporal/ short-term visas for replacement staff.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
•Achieved Citizen Delight by offering them a variety of payment methods & channels and thereby convenience. Standardised integration to NPA by way of common module eliminated coding efforts in PSP integration and considerably reduced the Service delivery time lines, •Service Adoption required a secure robust system and communicating the same to the public. Secure Transaction processing was achieved by implementing 3-D secure and PCI-DSS compliance norms and these were communicated by a variety of marketing campaigns & education programs ensuring the general public with enhanced trust and confidence in e-transactions, •Major thrust was given to UI such that it was easy to navigate through the services and in minimal clicks perform transactions. Robust and state of the art technologies were used (h/ware, s/ware) to drive efficient, error free transactions with configurable, parametric set-ups and stringent usability tests performed on the system helped achieve this objective. •Embracing online transactions have compelling all round benefits but this shared services payments platform is expected to additionally lessen Government’s burden of payment transaction fees by slashing payment Service Provider charges which will eventually mean lower transaction costs for cisitzens. •These landmark initiatives are freeing up payment queues and allowing government resources to focus on more critical support areas while contributing to overall productivity of the country. •Online payments are fast taking people off the streets allowing them perform transactions with the convenience of anywhere, anytime, anyhow and less crowded roads and departments are contributing to reduced Carbon Footprint and supports Green Gov.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
National Payment Aggregator is a highly scalable installation that will provide the following sustained benefits:- a.All payment services will be on-boarded progressively to enrich the eGA One Gov Portal and help attain larger objectives such as Zero Visit, improved Ease of Doing Business, Connected Governance & SmartGov agenda b.Shared Services Platform will eliminate duplication in investments in individual payment infrastructure, department wise channels and allow rendering cross-agency processes backed by payment services c.Government revenue collections will see a marked scale up given the convenience afforded to citizens & businesses while reducing bureaucratic delays, reduce revenue leakages and eliminate float; this means more resources available with government to plough back into developmental work d.Governance, Risk & Compliance issues receive a major boost with a completely automated, fully audit trailed and secure system. The rich back-office functionalities of the NPA System such as Auto-Reconciliation, Auto-Refunds processing and Dispute Management provide SLA driven workflow based backend processes besides automatic settlements and posting. e.As a nodal agency, eGA has a vibrant marketing, branding and mass adoption machinery in place that helps educate, popularize and adopt services by citizens backed by efficient well trained staff & support systems. f.Massive direct cost savings, reduced currency in circulation and green benefits shall accrue increasingly over time.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Several positive learnings came out of this initiative, to name a few:- •It’s a myth that large national projects that involve multiple agency rollouts cannot be achieved in short aggressive timelines. NPA was implemented within timelines & budget. •Such large projects typically see major deviations in scope and investments whereas NPA went live with just one small change request and that too at our behest. •Although the project was of national proportion, a simple philosophy saw its success – Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast

Contact Information

Institution Name:   eGovernment Authority
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Nidhin Hari
Title:   Leader, eServices Delivery  
Telephone/ Fax:  
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Postal Code:  

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