This last post wraps up the discussion of the digitization of social security allowances (SSAs) in Nepal. It takes stock of the main insights of the pilot project and sketches a strategy to scale up the alternative payment method, so far tested in three districts on a full scale, across the country.
The previous post described the current method of payment of social security allowance (SSA) in Nepal and highlighted its perks and drawbacks. This new episode presents a pilot project to digitise SSA payments and discusses a few preliminary insights, ahead of drawing a full lesson in the next post.
This post is the first of three looking at the digitization of social security benefit grants in Nepal. It provides the background of the country’s social security allowance (SSA) programme and describes how the current method of payment works.
The Town Development Fund of Nepal organized a national conference on Municipal Finance jointly with the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD) and the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) that took place on December 20 in Kathmandu at Hotel Annapurna.
One of the biggest challenges to financial inclusion in Nepal, like in many least developed countries, is the lack of physical infrastructure linking low-income people in rural areas to digital platforms. Developing agent networks and other cash-in/cash-out points is one of the critical steps in bridging this access gap. Without access to digital service points, farmers, merchants, teachers, pensioners, etc., who are living in remote areas cannot possibly adopt financial services that would impact their businesses and lives.
In Nepal, shifting the transfer of social security allowances from manual to digital means will lead to significant savings and increased efficiency. Savings will enable the Government to put more resources into health and education.
In this issue we have partnered with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) to bring forward the issue of Access to Finance and Financial Inclusion in Nepal. This builds on the work that beed management undertook in Nepal on Making Access Possible (MAP). We are grateful to Judith Karl, Executive Secretary of UNCDF for her interview. We would also like to express our sincerest gratitude to Dr. Binod Atreya, Dr. Chiranjibi Nepal, Catherine Denoon-Stevens, Kamneshnee Naidoo and Ujjwal Pokhrel for their contributions to this special issue of nefport.
Nepal is a newcomer to the digital financial services (DFS) space, with most efforts being small scale with branchless banking deployments.
Most banks simply lack a long-term vision to create alternate distribution channels to reach the ‘last mile,’ and a large portion of their efforts to date have been driven by interventions from development agencies. Nepal’s economy has been affected significantly by the earthquake of April 2015 as well as the political unrest that occurred during most of the second half of 2015.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) on 14 July at ICIMOD’s headquarters in Nepal. Judith Karl, Executive Secretary, UNCDF and David Molden, Director General, ICIMOD signed the MOU in the presence of delegates from UNCDF and colleagues from ICIMOD.