Escaping Darkness: Understanding Consumer Value in PAYGo Solar

In-depth discussions with customers on purchase decisions, value assessments and cash flow patterns

Over the past five years, pay-as-you-go (PAYGo) solar providers have sold more than 1.1 million solar home systems. These providers have leveraged mobile payments and remote lockout technology to build scalable business models that make solar home systems available to low-income customers. Customers pay for their units over time with small, high-frequency payments, often on terms that are more flexible than traditional lending models and microfinance.

This report seeks to understand the value that customers derived from PAYGo solar and how they afford it. Going deeper than most surveys, this paper highlights the customers’ own words, along with aggregated insights—a blend of evidence and analysis while offering concrete recommendations for how providers can improve value to customers. Key takeaways from the study are:

  1. People invest in solar to escape darkness;
  2. Paying over time brings an expensive asset within reach;
  3. Respondents want to own their energy system;
  4. Energy budgets can expand to fit in PAYGo;
  5. The decision to purchase solar is primarily made by men;
  6. PAYGo financing is more vulnerable to different forms of risk to both lenders and borrowers than traditional lending;
  7. Payment performance is determined by several factors. Beyond mere affordability, other factors affected customers’ payment patterns;

About this Publication

By Zollmann, J., Waldron, D., Sotiriou, A. & Gachoka, A.