May 13: Digital transaction has been experiencing a surge during the lockdown imposed to control the spread of Covid-19. Banks and Financial Institution (BFIs) have also been focusing on digital banking. Recently, the number of customers using services like internet banking, debit, credit cards and pre-paid services has reached 10 million.
According to the data from Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), there are around 31.01 million deposit accounts. Among them most of them use mobile banking. Among the total depositors, 98,06,237 users use mobile banking. Around 72,15,646 depositors use debit card. Similarly, 9,69,055 customers use internet banking. Likewise, 1,46,856 users use credit card and 63,775 customer use pre-paid card.
Due to the pandemic, almost all services except emergency ones are closed. All the banks of Nepal haven’t charged any fee for any kind of digital transaction during the lockdown. The customers have been using digital method to pay for money transfer, mobile top-up, drinking water, electricity and internet bill. Mobile banking and internet banking system have been attracting more customers. Also, digital wallets including e-Sewa, Khalti, IME Pay have been making the payment process more convenient. Recently, people have also been doing various transaction from Connect IPS. This shows that the digital platform have potential to put an end to the use of cheque or paper money.
Nepal Rastra Bank has been stressing on the need of investing in technology.
NRB has been spending several millions annually on printing new notes. Maximum use of digital payment method will allow the country to use the printed notes for long time. So, Nepal Bankers Association has suggested in the pre-budget report that 80 percent of transaction must be digital. According to Bhuwan Kumar Dahal, president of Nepal Bankers’ Association, they have suggested NRB to focus on developing cashless transaction.
Banking Expert Sanjeev Subba also stresses on the necessity of going into cashless transaction. He said that there are still several challenges when talking about expanding the usage of digital payment method throughout the country.
“Despite the digital facilities, people still prefer to sit in queue for exchanging cheque and to deposit money. This shows that banking system in Nepal still relies on cash,” Subba said. The system is such that we still need to use paper to open bank account, exchange foreign notes and many other bank transactions. In the global scene, customers don’t get cheque and use ATM very less. For Nepal, there are still many hindrances to go into full-fledged digital banking.