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KATHMANDU: More than one million customers have adopted digital banking after the lockdown and prohibition order were imposed by the government to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Nepal Rastra Bank’s statistics show that a total of 1.689 million people were added in the digital banking system since the first lockdown of March.
The number of customers using mobile and internet banking, debit and credit cards and prepaid cards till mid-March was only 18.21 million. The number has increased by 9.28 percent to 19.89 million till mid-August. Many existing customers of banks have joined the digital banking platform since the outbreak of the virus. Bankers have said that some new customers opened accounts just for digital transactions.
“The number of digital banking users increased significantly after the month of March,” said Bhuwan Kandel, executive director at NRB’s payment system department. He said that banks and financial institutions (BFIs) and payment service providers also encouraged clients to make digital transactions as a result of which the number of digital banking users increased more than the number of customers making physical transactions.
Considering the risk of coronavirus infection while making physical transactions, the central bank had directed the BFIs to ease the digital transaction cost. The commercial banks also appealed to their customers to stay safe at home and adopt digital payment platforms.
During the period, BFIs also opened 444 ATM counters. Altogether there were 3,662 ATM counters till mid-March which has reached 4,106 by mid-August.
According to NRB’s data, till mid-March, there was a total of 1.86 million mobile banking users including 8.67 million users in commercial banks, 1.49 million in development banks and 77,742 users in financial institutions. The number of mobile bankers reached 1.367 million till mid-August.
Likewise, the number of internet banking users which was only 969,055 before March reached 1.31million till August.
Similarly, data shows that the number of debit card users increased to 7.32 million till August from 7.21 million before March while the number of credit card holders reached 160, 217 from 146,856 in the same period. With this, banking transactions made digitally has also increased after the outbreak of coronavirus. According to NRB, total transactions worth Rs 915.76 billion were made digitally from mid-March to August.
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