Briefing: WeChat Pay and Alipay banned in Nepal by central bank

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Use of Chinese digital wallets banned in Nepal – The Himalayan Times

What happened: Nepal’s central bank, Nepal Rastra Bank, has banned the use of WeChat Pay and Alipay in the country. The bank reasoned that use of these apps was causing a loss of tourism dollars from Chinese visitors making transactions with Chinese vendors running businesses in Nepal by bypassing the Nepali financial system and keeping the payments in Chinese currency and on Chinese networks. As a result, Nepal cannot register this spending as foreign income or enforce taxation. According to The Himalayan Times, at least two Nepali companies are interested in working as intermediaries for WeChat Pay and Alipay in Nepal.

Why it’s important: Tourism is one of Nepal’s largest industries, with the country aiming to attract 2 million visitors by 2020. Chinese tourists make up a sizable portion of the visitors, too: in 2018, the number of Chinese traveling to country increased by nearly 50% from 2017 to 153,602. According to The Global Times, Ant Financial encouraged Alipay users to comply with local laws following the ban. Meanwhile, Nepali authorities have yet to ask telecom companies to block the services, so effective enforcement of the ban seems difficult, and Ant Financial and Tencent have little incentive to limit user access to their products.