(A partnership between UKaid Sakchyam and IME Digital Solution Ltd.)

Background

Digital Financial Services (DFS) can expand the delivery of basic financial services to the unserved/underserved population through innovative technologies like mobile-phone-enabled solutions, electronic money models and digital payment platforms. Digital channels can significantly reduce the costs for customers and service providers, making it possible for the Financial Service Providers (FSPs) to expand their reach to remote areas. FSPs including banks and fintechs around the world have realized the effective role DFS can play in financial inclusion and are seeking to unlock its potential by creating innovative solutions through digital technology.

Challenges

Many rural areas of Nepal have difficult geographic terrain where even basic infrastructure such as road and electricity are not available. The sparse and scattered nature of settlements in rural areas means the traditional FSPs such as Banks and Financial Institutions (BFIs) find it extremely difficult to establish and sustain brick and mortar service points. Due to the absence of formal financial institutions, the locals in many remote villages have to travel great distances to towns to avail even the simplest banking services such as cash withdrawal and deposit.

Sakchyam Intervention

To tackle the above-mentioned challenges, Fintech companies have been developing innovative alternative delivery channels through DFS. One of the prominent companies involved in DFS solutions in Nepal, IME Digital Solution Ltd has partnered with UKaid Sakchyam Access to Finance to provide avenues for financial services to the unserved/underserved population by utilizing a variety of digital technologies.

The partnership intends to help create a digital payments ecosystem where the customers, merchants, service providers and agents will use innovative DFS solutions including Near Field Communication (NFC) and Quick Response (QR) code related solutions to avail/deliver financial services in flexible and cost-effective ways.

To meet the objective of the project, IME Digital will:

  • Establish Fintech Centres (Human ATM/Cashpoints) equipped with Point of Sales (POS) devices with EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) compliance to provide financial services
  • Enable digital payment acceptance at merchant points through Micro POS devices which support NFC and QR code related solutions
  • Provide customers with Contactless Cards (online or offline stored-value NFC-enabled cards) to conduct instant low-value transactions at various IME’s merchant points and service providers
  • Make cash-in/cash-out services available at Fintech Centres, merchant points and selected desktop-using agents.

Likely Impact

IME Digital aims to issue 200,000 NFC cards, deploy 1,000 EMV POS devices at IME Fintech Centres, and deploy 10,000 Micro-POS devices at merchant points by July 2020. The project also intends to serve 80,000 women beneficiaries by developing women-focused services and schemes.

Results

As of March 2020, IME Digital has:

  • Deployed 50 EMV POS devices at IME Fintech Centers,
  • Deployed 550 Micro-POS devices at merchant points
  • Issued around 4000 NFC cards.