Seven commercial banks and Sakchyam Access to Finance Program signed an agreement today to open 173 Branchless Banking (BLB) outlets in 14 districts affected most severely by the earthquake. "As part of the partnership, Citizens Bank, Global IME Bank, Nepal Investment Bank, NMB Bank, Rastriya Banijya Bank, Sanima Bank and Siddhartha Bank have already setup 55 branchless banking points with the remaining to be established by the end of November," a statement read.
The launch of these crucial financial services comes at a point when the financial sector is under pressure to provide quick access to financial services in far-flung areas of the 14 districts.
The central bank is moving aggressively to expand branchless banking outlets throughout the country in line with its monetary policy, Nepal Rastra Bank governor Dr Chiranjibi Nepal said, addressing the signing ceremony. "The central bank is committed to working with banks and the government to provide a sustainable basis for expanding its goals of financial inclusion and expediting government to people (G2P) payments in an efficient manner," he added.
"The establishment of delivery points and making them sustainable holds key in achieving financial inclusion," joint secretary at the Finance Ministry Suresh Acharya. "The government intends to establish the right incentives for banks working with the central bank to rollout G2P and other cash transfer programmes, through networks such as the ones created by banks with Sakchyam support," he added.
Likewise, director general at the Department of Civil Registration Basanta Raj Gautam said that the government was finalising pricing structure for its implementation. "We have had presentations from Sakchyam on the basis for pricing and been looking at international as well as our own experiences to date," he said, adding that government would work closely with the banks to develop a sustainable model for delivery of G2P services.
Likewsie, reiterating the Government of UK's commitment to accelerate the deepening of access to financial services in rural Nepal, Economic Development Team Leader at DfID Gareth Weir, said that the active deliberation will enable retail finance and G2P payments through the banking sector.
On the occasion, Sakchyam Team Leader Baljit Vohra briefed about Sakchyam's achievements. "Sakchyam is supporting opening of 286 branchless banking outlets in mid and far-west and in quake-affected districts," he said, adding that the transformational BLB strategy includes the use of Point of Sale (PoS) machines, mobile phones and tablets enabled through agents, extensions counter and physical branches to rollout micro-banking products, G2P payments and value chain financing models that will further deepen financial-service penetration for households and enterprises in the remotest areas of the country.