AFP (Kathmandu) – Nepal’s central bank has banned popular Chinese digital wallets Alipay and WeChat, an official said Tuesday, fearing loss of foreign currency earnings from thousands of Chinese tourists that visit the country.
Nepal Rastra Bank issued a notice on Monday, banning the use of the Chinese digital payment platforms popularly used in hotels, restaurants and shops in tourist areas, especially in Chinese-run businesses.
Laxmi Prapanna Niroula, spokesman for Nepal’s central bank said that using the platforms in the country was illegal without the bank’s authorisation.
“We have enforced a ban on Alipay and WeChat Pay because the country is losing foreign currency earnings through its usage. Action will be taken if anyone is found using the platforms,” Niroula told AFP.
Niroula said currently there is no record of how many transactions have taken place through the platforms as they are not recorded in Nepal.
Alipay, started by e-commerce giant Alibaba and owned by its affiliate Ant Financial, and WeChat Pay, built into Tencent’s popular messaging service, have hundreds of millions of users between them and are China’s dominant payment platforms.
Over 150,000 Chinese tourists visited Nepal last year, helping it reach a landmark of welcoming over a million tourists for the first time.
Tourism is a major revenue earner for impoverished Nepal, home to eight of the world’s 14 peaks over 8,000 metres.
Tourism contributed 7.8 percent to Nepal’s GDP in 2017, creating over a million jobs, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.