First Private Commercial Bank Opens in Bajura: Sakchyam-NIC ASIA Bank Partnership Brings Banking Services to an Un-served Population

At an event on 9th August to mark the official launch of UKaid Sakchyam Access to Finance Programme (Sakchyam) and NIC ASIA Bank Limited’s partnership, NIC ASIA Bank announced the successful opening of its branch in Martadi, Bajura – making it the first A-class private Commercial Bank to have a full-fledged physical branch in the district.  This important milestone was made possible through the support provided by the Ukaid Sakchyam project.  The soft opening of this branch took place on 6th July 2017 in the presence of Seti Mahakali Region, Chief of Regional Office Mr. Tej Raj Bhatta along with branch staff including officiating Branch Manager Mr. Krishna Sodari. 31 accounts were opened in the banking hours on the first day itself with a total deposit of NPR 0.95 Million.  A large number of excited locals visited the branch on the soft opening day to understand the nature and type of banking services to be made available by NIC Asia for the first time in the district.  Till 6th August 2017, 320 numbers of accounts has already been opened with total deposit collection of NPR 15,509,000.

Bajura is one of the most geographically challenging districts in the country, making it unattractive to financial institutions as a possible market for the expansion of banking activities. Martadi has numerous local small enterprises, schools, government offices, cooperatives and NGOs. However, for a growing market, the absence of a full-fledged commercial bank had created a void in terms of banking service delivery.  Therefore, the introduction of NIC ASIA in the district will cater to the previously un-banked population who are eager to receive financial services. During the branch opening, the locals showed enthusiasm with the timely and quality services that would become available from a private sector bank.

“I am happy to know that this partnership has focused on reaching the financially unreached part of the country by opening the first private commercial bank in Bajura. This falls under our priority and I am positive that through this partnership, the rural community of Martadi and surrounding areas will benefit from the various planned interventions,” said Honourable Executive Director of Nepal Rastra Bank Mr. Narayan Prasad Poudel who was the Chief Guest at the signing ceremony program.

Under the ‘Sathi Sangai Sakchyam Bandai’ project, NIC ASIA Bank ‘Bank Pani Sathi Pani’, in addition to establishing the Martadi branch, will also establish three Branchless Banking (BLB) touch points in Bajura and adjacent districts. “Through the Martadi branch and the BLB touch points, we will introduce modern banking products including credit products such as Commercial Agriculture Loan, Laghu Udhyam Karja, Agriculture Equipment Loan, Cooperative Financing under Deprived Sector Lending and Small Business Loan,” shared Mr. Laxman Risal, CEO of NIC ASIA Bank. “Additionally, as there is a direct need for financial education in Bajura and the adjacent districts, under this partnership we will carry out various financial literacy initiatives such as Mass Meetings, Radio Jingles, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) messages, Tablet-based literacy initiatives, and Street Dramas as well,” he added.

“We want every remote community in Nepal to have access to formal financial services. To achieve this, through the years, we have supported commercial banks and micro finance institutions establish its branches and provide innovative financial products and services to the most remote communities of the mid- and far-west regions of the country,” said Mr. Baljit Vohra, Team Leader of Sakchyam. He added, “In this regard, we are proud to have partnered with NIC ASIA Bank to open the first ever private sector commercial bank in Bajura and also begin establishing BLB touch points, which will ultimately serve over 4,000 beneficiaries in adjoining areas.”

Sakchyam is a UKaid funded Access to Finance programme implemented for DFID Nepal by Louis Berger. It is being implemented in Nepal in partnership with local and international institutions.

NIC ASIA Bank is one of the largest private sector commercial banks in the country in terms of capital base, balance-sheet size, customer base, number of branch and ATM network. Currently there are 119 branches, 78 ATM Machine and 4 extension counters are in operation, spread all over the country.

The Bank has a strategy to reach every possible market for better service of its customers and there are more branches coming in operation soon.