Nepal's best digital bank 2019: Nabil Bank
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Nepal's best digital bank 2019: Nabil Bank

Nabil Bank

Digital mobile banking is about to take off in a big way in Nepal. The landlocked state boasts a young and tech-savvy population, a cellphone penetration rate of roughly 130% according to state operator Nepal Telecom, and a banking system that has finally recognized the pressing need to embrace the digital age.

No conversation with a Kathmandu-based lender is complete without a rundown of the products they plan to roll out. Most of these lenders have overlooked digital for too long and are now desperate to catch up.

But one lender, Nabil Bank, is busy bolting on new services as fast as it can, and stands above the fray.

Nabil Bank has become an expert at spotting gaps in the market that others have overlooked or ignored.

It can take courage to be a first mover, and this bank has that quality in spades.

Take its Korea Remit service: this was set up with Korea Exchange Bank with the aim of making the process of remitting money from Seoul to Kathmandu quick, reliable and as cheap as possible.

Remittances make up about a quarter of economic output, and while most Nepali families have at least one person working abroad, in many cases in south or southeast Asia, a painful share of those salaries is lost in transmission.

Nabil Bank’s genius is to strip digital banking down to the basics. Its Youtube tutorials in Nepali walk customers through the process of getting online and staying there, while services are tailored to people who have never owned a computer – and may never do so.

It takes a panoramic view of the digital realm, having joined forces with UnionPay to bring QR-code payments to thousands of merchants in a country that has become a popular destination for Chinese tourists.