Tuesday, 7 February, 2023

Digital Payment System In Pandemic Situation

Rudra Prasad Adhikari


Digital payment is a way of paying for goods and services digitally, thus replacing traditional methods of paying via cash or cheque. This includes all mobile and web applications following a secure and authorised payment gateways.
Almost all the bank and financial institutions (BFIs) of Nepal had launched their own web and mobile banking applications. Apart from banking applications the common digital wallets like E-Sewa, Khalti, FonePay, iPay, QPay, IMEPay, PrabhuPay etc. are also providing several online payment services which are directly or indirectly dependent on bank accounts.
One can load amount on his/her digital wallet either from his/her bank account directly through e-banking/internet banking or mobile banking or using his/her debit /credit card or depositing cash on the specified accounts going to bank.
Along with the facility of transferring amounts from bank account to the digital wallet or vice versa, the facilities like electricity bill payment, drinking water bill payment, internet bill payment, mobile top up, digital TV payment, air, bus and cable car online ticket booking, online shopping and various other utility payments are commonly available in such digital wallets and banking applications.
Some of the applications like Connect IPS; an application developed by Nepal Clearing House (NCHL) enable government transactions, so that users can pay government tax, revenue or similar charges online. It means people need not travel to bank and offices to make payments. This helps to avoid crowds which is essential to remain safe from coronavirus infection.
Recently, Nepal Rastra Bank has changed the transaction limit of various digital transaction mediums. Now the transaction limit of Mobile Banking including QR Code Payment has been set to NRs. 1 Lakh per day and NRs.10 Lakhs per month with NRs. 20 thousand per transaction which was NRs. 50 thousand per day and NRs.2 Lakhs per month with NRs. 20 thousand per transaction before. The transaction limit of ATM Debit / Credit card has been set to NRs. 1 Lakh per day and NRs.30 Lakhs per month with NRs. 20 thousand per transaction which was NRs. 60 thousand per day and NRs.18 Lakhs per month with NRs. 20 thousand per transaction before.
Similarly, the transaction limit of Wallet to Wallet, Wallet to Bank account and vice-versa has been set to NRs. 1 Lakh per day and NRs. 5 Lakhs per month with NRs. 25 thousand per transaction. Also, the transaction limit of Internet Banking has been set to NRs. 10 Lakh per day, NRs.30 Lakhs per month for Merchant Payment and NRs. 50 Lakhs per month for account transfer. The agent or sub-agent payment has been set to NRs. 25 thousand per day and NRs. 1 Lakh per month.
As per the latest provision, the customers can swipe their cards on any banks’ ATM booth and no extra charge would be taken for this. Likewise customers should not pay any service charge for Real Time Gross Settlement Service (RTGS), Connect IPS, E-banking, Mobile banking and any other digital payment methods. This is a grand opportunity for the customers to make extensive use of digital payment taking an advantage of minimising health risks avoiding the crowd.
Once the customers start using digital payment medium, it is very convenient and less time-consuming compared to traditional methods of paying through cash or cheque. Similarly, it reduces transaction costs as the people should not have to travel to banks or paying parties’ place frequently. Other advantage of making digital transaction is that it increases sales of goods or services.
There are few disadvantages too such as security concerns and disputed transactions. Although stringent measures such as symmetric encryption are in place to make e-payment safe and secure, it is still vulnerable to hacking.
Similarly, if someone makes unauthorised transactions using authorised channels it becomes harder to settle the dispute. Also, to keep secure systems banks and enterprises have to spend more which increases business costs.
As the banking sector in Nepal is seeking opportunities for boosting up digital products, it might be a good opportunity. Encouraging digital payment reduces the hardcopy workloads in one hand and helps to combat coronavirus disease in the present crisis.
However, challenges are still there as the security concerns may make people reluctant to use digital payment systems. In this condition BFIs and system developers should take customers in faith and provide efficient, reliable and technologically sound services.

(Adhikari is an IT professional currently working in Rastriya Banijya Bank.)