The recent ban on Chinese digital wallets, namely We- Chat and Alipay, in Nepal has grabbed media attention. Nepal Rastriya Bank resorted to the ban because those payment systems were not registered in Nepal. When Nepal is expecting many Chinese tourists during Visit Nepal Year 2020, such a ban may hamper tourist convenience while making payments.
So the government should hold formal talks with the Chinese authorities and sort out the issue as soon as possible.
Given the viability of online payment in China, the tourists will expect the same kind of system in Nepal. And if those digital payments are institutionalised here, with a proper taxation policy, they will yield big benefits for Nepal, too. It might be good for the Nepali government to also collaborate with the Chinese digital payment systems and upgrade our existing digital payments, like E-sewa and Khalti, accordingly.
As a student of IT, it sometimes surprises me to know that a smart phone with verified We- Chat application is the only thing someone in China needs to carry when going out. When Tencent introduced WeChat at the beginning of 2011, nobody had imagined that the simple mobile app was just half a decade away from being another name of e-commerce with almost one billion users. WeChat provides easy platform for peerto-peer payments, pay utility bills, book movie tickets – to name just a few services. Practically, you can pay for anything in China with this single app.
In the case of Nepal, we could also introduce such a payment system because we now have a huge digital population, and we just need a relevant policy from the central bank to make the move. According to a report of Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA), the number of mobile subscriptions has outnumbered Nepal’s population.
With a single person subscribing to more than one service, the mobile service penetration rate has hit 105.15 per cent of the population.
Hence, if only the Himalayan country could adapt and institutionalise a similar payment mechanism like WeChat in the Nepali market, the Nepali population could easily access every privilege with a touch of a finger. To embrace such an advanced system, collaboration between the private sector and the government could give a big push to our e-commerce.
Implementing phone payment systems would reduce the government burden and make public life easier.
A version of this article appears in print on June 06, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.