In 2016, Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) issued a licensing policy for the Payment Service Providers (PSP) and Payment System Operators (PSO) to provide financial services by using the internet, mobile device and or payment card services. This allowed non-financial companies to enter the formal financial service sector. The new avenues of digital payment solution led to the launch of various innovative digital services and delivery channels by the Financial Service Providers (FSPs).
The geographical landscape of Nepal has been a huge challenge for financial institutions in their effort at reaching out to the people in the remotest part of the country. There are still pockets of population in the various far-flung areas unserved by formal financial services.
Even FSPs that have been able to reach the rural population through specific financial products and innovative delivery channels are yet to reach a certain section of the population. An effective technology with a cost-effective delivery channel is required to increase access to finance among the un/underserved section of the population.
In light of the above challenges being faced by the financial sector of Nepal, UKaid Sakchyam Access to Finance programme has partnered with eSewa Fonepay Pvt. Ltd. to design, develop and launch Cash Points in the Sakchyam priority districts. The objective of the project is to ensure better financial access among the underserved population through cost-effective digital channels at these Cash Points. For this, eSewa will enroll local agents for Cash Points which will be the touchpoints for all banking/financial services.
Along with providing linkages between the rural consumers and BFIs, eSewa will also facilitate connection with their eSewa Wallet and cooperatives thus giving the customers a wide range of choices for transactions. The customers will also have the option to make deposits in multiple BFIs.
The banks and financial institutions can use this platform to reach out to the untapped segment of clients and offer their products/services in a much more cost-effective manner than through traditional brick and mortar outlets.
The major milestones and achievements targeted through the project are as follows:
— Identify, enroll and launch at least 5,500 Cash Points in priority districts
— Create a single interface that enables easy Cash In/Cash Out to/from bank accounts and eSewa wallet accounts
— Develop Cash Points as local financial hubs with added financial services such as bill payments, remittance, opening bank accounts, information services, etc.