A Cashless Nepal?

Stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements in 2020 forced banks and financial institutions to promote cashless solutions. With mobile phones determining the uptake of digital banking, a planned roll-out of super speed 5G internet system by the next fiscal year will trigger a step-change in the digital banking industry. The Kathmandu Post's Krishana Prasain talked to Ashok Sherchan, an experienced banker and CEO of Prabhu Bank, about the future of mobile banking and payment apps including the banking industry's role in addressing the gender gap.

You have closely observed the success of the Nepali banking industry over the years. Are banks the forerunners in addressing gender inequality?

I think there are no gender inequalities in banking and financial institutions. Even Prabhu Bank has more than 50 percent women employees. Most of the banks in Nepal have more than 20 percent women employees. We are sensible towards gender inequality, and we think opportunities need to be equal. I think the number of women employees in the banking sector is high compared to other sectors. This is because the facilities are good in banks and there is always an opportunity to learn. And I expect the number of women employees to increase in the coming days as banks are expanding their branches. Women economic empowerment is critical to achieving gender equality.

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The cashless society from an ethical point of view

The debate about the move towards a cashless society has been at the center of the scene for several years, now. Various angles have been taken by economists, politicians, banking institutions and sociologists. Beyond the technicalities of the debate, lies the question of freedom, of inter-citizen solidarity and of governmental responsibility. The debate cannot remain in the hands of financial specialists, it is first and foremost an ethical, political and societal issue.

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