In an exciting development for Chinese tourists visiting Nepal, they can now conveniently use WeChat Pay, a popular Chinese digital payment service, in the country. WeChat Pay has partnered with NMB Bank Nepal to bring this mobile payment system to Nepal.
The collaboration between WeChat Pay and NMB Bank Nepal was officially launched on Thursday, allowing Chinese nationals to make purchases using their mobile phones. This move comes after Nepal Rastra Bank granted permission to NMB Bank to establish the necessary infrastructure for WeChat Pay in Nepal back in February 2020. Unfortunately, the inauguration was delayed due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chinese Ambassador to Nepal, Chen Song, expressed his congratulations on Twitter, stating, “Warm congratulation to WeChat Pay Cross-border Payment service Inauguration in Nepal. A new step forward in financial connectivity, one of the five ‘connectivities’ under the #BRI initiative.” Ambassador Chen also expressed his hopes for the success of the collaboration between NMB Bank and WeChat Pay, emphasizing the benefits it will bring to both countries.
Deputy CEO and Chief Information Officer of NMB Bank, Sudesh Upadhyaya, explained, “The cooperation between NMB Bank and WeChat Pay has legalized payments via WeChat Pay in Nepal.” He further elaborated that Chinese visitors in Nepal can make payments by scanning a quick response (QR) code using WeChat Pay on their mobile devices. However, it’s important to note that the service is currently only available to Chinese nationals visiting Nepal and not to Nepalis traveling to China. Nonetheless, the availability of WeChat Pay for Chinese tourists will contribute to Nepal’s foreign currency earnings.
It’s worth mentioning that in May 2019, Nepal had banned WeChat Pay and AliPay due to the use of unregistered online payment systems, which were deemed illegal and resulted in financial losses for Nepal. However, with the recent collaboration between WeChat Pay and NMB Bank, WeChat Pay has been reinstated as a legal payment option in Nepal.
WeChat Pay, operating on Tencent’s messaging service, and Alibaba’s Alipay are the dominant digital payment platforms in mainland China. WeChat Pay, officially known as Weixin Pay, is a mobile payment and digital wallet service that enables users to make mobile payments and online transactions seamlessly.
In addition to the partnership between WeChat Pay and NMB Bank, Nepal has been making strides in enabling cross-border digital payments with various countries. Recently, Nepal and India signed a memorandum of understanding to facilitate cross-border digital payments, aiming to streamline transactions for businesspeople, students, and tourists traveling between the two countries. The reciprocal cross-border digital payment service will benefit travelers from both nations.
Moreover, Nepal’s Fonepay and Sri Lanka’s National Payment Network, LankaPay, have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop an interoperable digital payment system. This system will allow users of either network’s applications to make affordable and convenient payments across merchants in both countries.
Guru Prasad Poudel, Executive Director of Nepal Rastra Bank and Chief of the Payments Department, outlined the phased approach to the implementation of digital payment services. He stated, “In the first phase, we prioritize acquiring cross-border digital payment capabilities, which means allowing foreign nationals to make payments in Nepal using the digital payment systems of their respective countries.” Additionally, Poudel mentioned that the mechanism for Nepalis in foreign countries to send money through digital payment services is also being developed in this phase. The second phase, which involves enabling Nepali nationals to make digital payments in their respective countries, is yet to be implemented and requires further consideration of limitations and transaction charges.
As of mid-May, Nepal had 10 payment system operators (PSOs) and 27 payment service providers (PSPs). The country had 13,744 PSP agents and 18.22 million wallet users during the same period. Notably, Nepal recorded electronic payment transactions totaling Rs3.88 trillion from mid-April to mid-May this year, a decrease from Rs5.31 trillion in the corresponding period last year.
The expansion of digital payment services, particularly with the introduction of WeChat Pay in Nepal, marks a significant step forward in financial connectivity and offers convenience to Chinese tourists visiting the country. Nepal’s efforts to establish cross-border digital payment collaborations with India and Sri Lanka further enhance the ease of transactions for travelers and pave the way for greater financial integration in the region.