While most businesses in Nepal suffered heavy losses during the Covid-19 pandemic, digital wallets were booming. Given the restrictions on people’s movement and the necessity of maintaining social distance, people in urban areas cottoned on to online banking and digital wallets for their convenience.
Media reports suggest the number of digital wallet users in Nepal has crossed 7.6 million, an over 30 percent increase since 2019-end. Also, the number of registered wallets have increased to almost two dozen, although not all of them are operational at the moment. Still, for a small economy, the existing wallets, along with commercial banks also providing wallet services, only adds to the competition. In a market with relatively few users and comparatively many players, the competition is tough for wallet service providers and unless their services do not have strong unique selling points, they will soon go kaput.
“We are fighting for that 5-7 percent of people in Nepal who are using digital wallets,” says Diwakar Pandey, Chairman of Digipay Pvt. Ltd. “Not all registered users are active so the market is still smaller. So if we can’t be unique, we won’t survive.” Registered in 2018 and approved by the Nepal Rastra Bank to provide monetary services in April 2021, Digipay is a fast-growing digital wallet that is looking to break norms to attract users to its platform.
For digital wallets to work, users/customers and vendors need to be part of the same service. For example, if Mr. X is registered to Wallet Y, he can only avail of the services provided by the vendors registered with the wallet. To pay for a product or service with the wallet, Mr. X will have to load the wallet from his bank account. Wallet Y ties up with as many vendors as possible to give customers like Mr. X discounts, rebates, cashbacks, bonus points, and even lucky draw prizes to attract them towards its service.
“With Digipay, the model is different,” says Pandey. “We believe cash is still king in Nepal and will be for at least a few more years. Thus, we give our users the option to use cash and still benefit from registering with our services.” There are still many Nepali smartphone users who are not used to using internet services every time they shop, and the same also goes for vendors.
The hassle of logging in to a wallet, loading it with digital cash, making a payment, remembering password—the whole process is a hassle to many, Diwakar explains.
So Digipay offers a whole new process for its users. Under Digipay’s service, once the users register with the wallet, they can even make cash payments to its 450 vendors inside Kathmandu valley and still get loyalty points which they can redeem in the form of Digipay’s ‘gold cash.’ When they have enough ‘gold cash,’ the users can use it to purchase products or services within the network. “The amount of gold cash received by the customers depends on how much each vendor is giving out but generally, Digipay users get back around two percent in loyalty points of what they spend within our network.”
Limited at present to Kathmandu valley, Digipay has crossed 100,000 registered users and is planning to expand all over Nepal. With Pandey’s previous experience in technology as well as event management, Digipay’s marketing and brand activation are events-based. Having been associated with many physical events before the covid era, Digipay has currently been reaching its customers through online events.
Currently, Digipay is sponsoring an online talent show called “T-Series StageWorks Talent Hunt” with the tagline ‘Ticket to Bollywood.’ In this unique event, the contestants participate through online videos and the winner gets scholarships at T-Series StageWorks Academy in India, run by the Indian entertainment giants T-Series.