Hello Paisa has been launched to expand the financial access through a branchless banking channels as lately branchless banking and mobile money have become prudent choices for financial institutions to expand their service base instead of competing to open more brick-and-mortar branches in the already crowded town hubs.
In the last couple of years, more and more banks have opted for either a branchless banking platform or mobile money as an instrument to expand their accessibility in remote areas.
Everest Bank, Siddhartha Bank and Mega Bank use smart cards and agents to provide financial services to the rural clientèle. Likewise, Kumari Bank's Mobile Cash and Laxmi Bank's Mobile Money use the mobile network as a platform to allow banking transactions.
Similarly, Finaccess's Hello Paisa is a mobile financial service platform through mobile banking that allows access to mobile wallet, said executive chairman of Finaccess Sanjay B Shah.
Finaccess signed an agreement with five financial institutions — Laxmi Bank, Bank of Kathmandu, Commerz and Trust Bank, Siddhartha Bank, and International Leasing and Finance Company — today to clarify the terms of coordination regarding mobile banking activities using Hello Paisa platform.
"Seven more commercial banks are also in the trial phase," he said, adding that to access the mobile banking service, the customer does not need to have an account with any of the banks. They can transact with an account of Hello Paisa and access the money at any of the designated agents that could be any business including a local grocer as well.
The agreement is intended to establish arrangements for coordination and cooperation between the financial institutions to maximise customer uptake and avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts, according to Shah.
Finaccess has also developed a mobile application called Hello Paisa Nepal to allow swift transactions of money using smartphones and tablet devices. Laxmi Bank has already launched the service in Kavre and Sindhupalchowk and the reception is encouraging, he added.
Likewise, in order to promote mobile banking and branchless banking which are the future of the Nepali banking system, the central bank is also preparing regulations. "Nepal Rastra Bank is bringing in comprehensive regulations for branchless and mobile banking very soon," said spokesperson for the central bank Bhaskar Mani Gyanwali.
The existing regulations for branchless banking by NRB is a basic 10-point directive which is not sufficient to cover all the aspects governing mobile and branchless banking. "The soon to be announced guidelines will address all the aspects of branchless and mobile banking –– from fees to technology –– in order to encourage these practices from the policy level," said Gyanwali.
Though the urban areas of the country have reached a saturation point for commercial banks they are still shying away from venturing into geographically difficult areas. Amidst this situation, branchless banking and mobile banking have become important instruments to reach a wider mass at a relatively lower cost rather than setting up branches in the villages that do not have a sizable population