Nepal | July 16, 2020

EDITORIAL: Regulate pay apps

The Himalayan Times
Share Now:

The authorities should have the Chinese mobile payment systems register in Nepal so as to regulate them, just like the credit card providers

Tourism is Nepal’s third largest source of foreign exchange after remittances by the Nepalis toiling mostly in the Gulf countries and merchandise exports. Nepal generated Rs 47.6 billion from foreign tourists in the first eight months of the current fiscal year. But the question is, could the earnings have been more? Or did a good sum of tourist spending leave the country without even entering Nepal? It has come to light that Chinese businesses, namely restaurants, hotels and travel agencies, operating in the country encourage their fellow customers to pay through the Chinese mobile payment applications, Alipay and WeChat, to settle dues. In doing so, payment for a service purchased in Nepal is actually done in China, home to the two Chinese mobile payment giants. Since China is already the second largest source of tourists to Nepal, the widespread use of the Chinese mobile payment systems deprives Nepal of many economic benefits, not the least being taxes on the earnings repatriated, as the money technically never entered the country. It also does not allow the actual spending by a Chinese tourist to be recorded as foreign income.

Alipay and WeChat Pay are highly popular mobile payment applications in China. Even beggars in the streets of China seek charity through these applications. Alipay has about 700 active monthly users in China while WeChat has a billion plus, which means most Chinese, or at least those who will be travelling, will have an account. The mobile applications allow Chinese users to transfer payments from one account to another within the platform. Given the sheer number of Chinese business establishments, such as hotels, restaurants and travel agencies, at Jyatha, next to the tourist hub of Thamel, one can surmise that Alipay and WeChat Pay are in wide use here even though they have not taken permission from the authorities to operate in Nepal.

The problem associated with the Chinese mobile applications is not confined to Nepal. Thailand and Malaysia, which see Chinese tourists by the millions, are also grappling with the problem. What the authorities should do is have the mobile payment systems register in Nepal so that their modus operandi can be regulated, just like the financial services organisations VISA and Master Card were required to do to process transactions carried out on credit cards. We must appreciate the creative disruption caused by the mobile payment applications in business. This is how transactions will take place in the near future as plastic cards become obsolete. With the launch of Visit Nepal 2020, with particular focus on the two neighbours, the number of Chinese tourists could see a quantum jump next year and beyond. Hence the central bank must act in earnest so as to have all spendings by a Chinese tourist made through the formal channel. This will generate extra resources – in the form of taxes – to pay for, say, maintaining a road used by a tourist or the damage done to the environment. It will also help, in whatever manner, address the widening current account and balance of payments deficits, which are lowering the country’s foreign exchange reserves.

Ahead of schedule

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Tuesday made  the breakthrough of the 12.2-km-long tunnel of the Bheri-Babai multipurpose diversion project in Surkhet. The breakthrough was made one year ahead of the schedule, thanks to the use of a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) for the first time in the country. Apart from irrigating around 51,000 hectares of farmland in Banke and Bardiya districts, the project will also generate 46.8-MW of electricity. This has shown that even a mega project can be completed on time provided suitable technology is used.

Once the project comes into full operation by fiscal 2022/23, it is expected to earn around Rs 4 billion from electricity generation and Rs 3 billion from agricultural production annually. It will also create indirect jobs in the two districts as more people will be involved in farming, especially in growing cash crops. The PM rightly stressed the need to use TBM in other hydropower and irrigation projects, where long tunnels need to be built to divert river water. The federal and provincial governments must jointly work out a long-term plan to best ustilise the irrigation project to modernise the agriculture sector in the districts.


A version of this article appears in print on April 18, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Nepali photo-journalists condemn unprofessional behaviour of media houses during crisis

KATHMANDU: Photo Journalist Club (PJC) and National Forum of Photo Journalists (NFPJ) have condemned the attitude of media houses failing to provide professional security to working photo-journalists amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. On Wednesday, PJC and NFPJ jointly issued a press release sta Read More...


Twitter silences some verified accounts after wave of hacks

SAN FRANCISCO - Multiple high-profile Twitter accounts were hijacked on Wednesday, with some of the platform's top voices - including U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, reality TV star Kim Kardashian, former U.S. President Barack Obama and billionaire Elon Musk, among many others - used Read More...

2.36 million Nepalis scared of losing home or land

KATHMANDU, JULY 15 Around 2.36 million adult Nepalis expect to be forced out of their homes against their will in the next five years, a ground-breaking study has shown. Nepal’s scorecard, however, is relatively better than the global average, in which about one in five adults (19 per cent) Read More...

High-profile twitter accounts hacked in Bitcoin scam

KATHMANDU: In an episode of a very conspicuous security breach on a social media site, a wave of high-profile Twitter account hacks to offer fake Bitcoin deals sent alerts flying in the wee hours Thursday. The official Twitter accounts of billionaires Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos were h Read More...

Armed Police Force Senior Superintendent of Police held on rape charge

POKHARA, JULY 15 Police today arrested an Armed Police Force Senior Superintendent of Police on the charge of raping a woman in Kaski. Acting on the complaint of the victim, a police team led by Superintendent of Police Jevan Kumar Shrestha of Kaski District Police Office arrested SSP Rajendra Read More...

Twitter Hack Update: Coordinated social engineering attack, says Twitter

KATHMANDU: Multiple high profile Twitter accounts were hacked in the wee hours of Thursday morning, soliciting Bitcoin donations. Accounts of millionaires, US politicians, musicians and corporations were compromised in the crypto currency scam. Initially, Twitter prevented at least some verifi Read More...

PM Oli's Ayodhya claim ends possibility of talks with India: Nepali Congress VP

KATHMANDU: Nepali Congress Vice-president Bimalendra Nidhi has termed Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s claim that Thori village in Parsa is the real Ayodhya and the birthplace of Lord Ram baseless, irrelevant and objectionable. Nidhi said both Hindus and non-Hindus accepted from time immemorial t Read More...

DoA to undertake research on Lord Ram’s birthplace

KATHMANDU, JULY 15 The Department of Archaeology has said it would begin archaeological studies on the possibility of Lord Ram’s birth place being in Nepal, following Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s recent statement that the Hindu god was born in the Himalayan country. Damodar Gautam, Direc Read More...