Digital wallets have now become a necessity for payment more than a luxury. They are removing the need to stay in a line at the office to pay the bills and making our lives easy. Digital wallets and online payment service providers are making our life simple and saving our time. We can just pay our bills, book tickets and pay for services just from mobile phone or computer. This is beneficial for both users and service providers. For many of you, it might have been a few years that you may not have been to any office to pay bills. This is all due to digital wallets, online banking, and online digital payments. Currently, there are many mobile and digital wallets in Nepal. So in this article, we will discuss them and rank them according to many factors.
Nepal has a target to become a cashless economy. Many other countries are shifting to cashless payment options. Online payment is increasing rapidly and the regular NRB data also shows the same. The main benefit of online payments is transparency, accountability, real-time settlement, and ease. People are using many digital online payment services these days. Almost everyone provides the same services but they have different UI, experience, customer support, and perks. Currently, there are platforms that provide service through both mobile app and websites. The online wallets that only serve through mobile apps are mobile wallets while others who service through both app and website are digital wallets.
We have tested few top service providers or mobile wallets in Nepal. In the ranking process, we have looked at the user review, app store rating, downloads, website rank, features, rewards, perks, UI, experience, ease, special features, and other factors for deciding.
What are Digital Wallet, Mobile Wallet, Payment Gateway, and Digital PSP?
These are some of the terms that everyone hears or reads about online payment systems. These are important and we should know these before processing. Many people might find these words similar and confusing and we can’t blame them. Everyone just uses these terms randomly so it needs clarification.
Simply according to Wikipedia, a Digital wallet or e-wallet is an online service or software that provides the function or service of electronic transactions using a computer or smartphone. People can also store cryptocurrencies, loyalty cards, membership cards, driving licenses, health cards, ID cards, etc in digital wallets.
According to Investopedia, a Mobile wallet is a virtual wallet on a mobile device that stores payment and card information. These are mobile and app-based wallets that help in making digital payments. Some wallets also help to make payments offline using SMS so they can do both online and offline digital transactions.
Payment gateway is a merchant service that processes card and direct payments for online and offline businesses and is provided by an eCommerce application service provider. Mainly a payment gateway helps by communicating information between the payment portal and front-end processor. There can be a special financial service provider or bank to provide a payment gateway service.
A payment service provider (PSP) is a term for a company that helps a business to accept multiple types of online payment methods. This can include cards, online banking, digital wallets, and few others. A PSP ensures a transaction happens safely between business and consumer.
Among all these, our focus is on the best digital wallets in Nepal. There are many such companies in Nepal but we will list the top 5 among them.
eSewa is a ubiquitous name in the digital wallet market of Nepal. It is Nepal’s first online payment service provider and the first online payment gateway to get a license from Nepal Rastra Bank. The name eSewa is so popular that people sometimes use it instead of online payment. The company started its journey in 2009 and it is a subsidiary of F1Soft International. Actually, F1Soft owns Fonepay and eSewa Money Transfer as well. They also develop mobile banking apps for many big banks in Nepal. So, they are a very big fintech company in the Nepali tech sector.
They have the biggest number of downloads and reviews in the Android and Apple app stores. The company provides all the services from the website as well. eSewa website has the highest traffic among all competitors according to Alexa Site info. All of this is due to their early start, reputation and service. The company provides a huge array of services from app and websites.
Also Read: International Payment from Nepal
UI and Design
The website of eSewa is very simple to use and everything is laid out pretty well. Every feature and service is available on the front home page. There is no need to click multiple links and go down the rabbit hole. There is also a search function that allows searching for services and merchants easily. One of the things we don’t like is that we can’t access the site on mobile. In mobile, users have to use the app for using service.
The mobile app of eSewa is also very good looking and easy to use. It has a clean UI with support to dark mode as well. The appearance transition can happen automatically when the system switches to dark mode. All the services are shown at the front and the whole app is easy to use as a breeze. There is MPIN for security and fingerprint for both payment and login. This makes login easy and safe for users.
eSewa offers a plethora of services and payment support to merchants. First and foremost there are tons of basic utility bill payment services. This includes payments for mobile phone recharge, mobile topup, NEA electricity bill, water bill, TV service, and Internet service. There is also a credit card payment service for many commercial banks. People can also pay premiums for life insurance and non-life insurance companies. The mobile app also supports payments using QR code scan with help of Fonepay.
eSewa supports payments to stockbrokers, capital market companies, Demat account renewal, Meroshare renewal, and EMI of different financial institutions. People can also pay for government services such as Bluebook renewal and foreign employment term insurance. Other government beneficiaries include Inland Revenue Department, Merokitta survey department, Foreign employment welfare fund, RMIS, and local government payments.
There is also support for paying fees to many schools, colleges, Montessori, tuition institutes, councils, competitive exams, and professional institutions. For entertainment, there is movie ticket booking at many multiplexes and cinema halls. This includes Big Movies, FCUBE, QFX, Gopi Krishna, BSR movies, etc.
Travel and ticket booking are some of the strong points of eSewa. They provide domestic bus tickets, domestic flight tickets, and even international flight booking services. The company has partnered with many bus service companies, travel agencies, and airlines.
People can also use eSewa to book appointments at hospitals, pay for registration and tests. This helps in saving time and makes life much easier for patients. On the topic of saving time, eSewa is a leader in providing online payment services for multiple e-Commerce and shopping portals.
Offline SMS Mode
This is a very important feature that every mobile wallet must have. It is sometimes very hard to have a fast and secure internet connection. It is also recommended to never use public or free WiFi to perform banking and critical transaction. Always use a secure WiFi connection of home, office, or just use mobile data. In the case where neither of these mediums are available, SMS mode helps a lot. eSewa provides services such as mobile topup, balance inquiry, mini statement, payment of water bills, credit card bills, school fees, and EMI through SMS.
Banking and Remittance
eSewa has partnerships with a large number of banks and financial institutions for banking services. They provide direct bank linking for easy money loading and transfer. They also support loading funds using online banking, mobile banking, cards, counter deposit, banks, and cashpoints. There is also easy money transfer to banks, Sahakri, and to other eSewa users.
The e-wallet provides a huge array of payment options and services. In our review, they get the top spot because of many reasons including bank support. eSewa has support for more banks and provides many payment options. They have a broad user base and are very popular.
Remittance is also a very popular service from the company. There is service from companies like Western Union, eSewa Remit, and City Express. People can use the Western Union pickup service where money sent through Western Union can be received in the digital wallet. eSewa Remit is a service to send and receive money across Nepal through payout centers. eSewa Money Transfer was established in 2019 and it has a license under foreign exchange regulation from NRB.
Reward Point, Cashback and Offers
eSewa provides cashback on multiple service payments. For example, there is cashback on internet bill payment and mobile phone topup. Each payment also provides a certain reward point which can be accumulated and redeemed later for benefits and coupons. eSewa also runs many promotions and has promo codes for different occasions which can be redeemed for gifts and discounts.
Khalti is a digital platform owned by Janaki Technologies Pvt. Ltd. It was established in 2017 and is operated by Sparrow Pay. The company has shown exponential growth in service and reputation since its start. They also won the Google Business Group Storytelling Contest 2017. Khalti is actually providing the service of digital wallet, mobile wallet, payment gateway, and payment service providers in Nepal. Khalti is a big brand in the fintech industry of Nepal. They have the second largest site traffic among competitors according to Alexa and the second largest number of mobile app reviews plus downloads.
Website and Mobile App
The website of Khalti checks all our boxes because the site runs in both desktop and mobile versions. It is not forcing to use the mobile app while using the site in the mobile browser. The app is also very good after the recent Flutter redesign as it is easier to use. Khalti app has all the utilities, services, and features available on the home page. Everything is easily accessible and visible to the user. There are security features such as Biometric login, MPIN, App lock, and transaction lock using MPIN or biometrics.
The mobile app of Khalti has well categorization of merchants and services for making payments. For example, basic utility bill payment, ticket booking, money loading, and popular government services are at home. Similarly, there is “Bazaar” section where there are other categories of merchants such as entertainment, IT, health, clothing, education, food, and essentials. The Khalti mobile wallet app also has a QR code scan and pay feature where they have partnered with Smart QR and UnionPay. This can be used in cinemas, fuel stations, restaurants, hospitals, local shops, and retail outlets.
The website of Khalti digital wallet has a clean simple design where main and popular services are shown at front. Other services are inside easily accessible sections. Mainly there are three sections and they are “Services”, “Bazaar” and “Bookings”.
Bazaar, Booking and Services
Khalti has categorized its features into three sections. In the Bazar part, there are payment options for retail outlets, medical institutes, educational institutes, online service providers, traders, retail outlets, products, technical associations, societies, advertisers, and some government organizations.
The “Services” section is the biggest with the highest number of merchants. This includes payment services for mobile topup, internet bills, landline telephone bills, Khanepani, NEA electricity bill, data packs, waste collection bill, ride sharing app bill, and antivirus purchase. EMI payment, Demat account renewal, Meroshare renewal, government fees, traffic police fines, credit card payments are also under this section. Moreover, cable car, flight domestic tickets, bus ticket booking, and hospital appointment booking are also under the services section.
In the “Bookings” section, Khalti actually shows the bookings and appointments made. It just shows the details of hotel bookings, travel tickets, appointments, and movie tickets. Khalti has a partnership with OYO rooms so we can make bookings at hotels as well.
Banks, Accounts, and Remittance
Just like other online digital wallets, we can easily load money from linked bank accounts, eBanking, mobile banking, Connect IPS, credit and debit cards. Loading money is also available from selected bank counters at NIBL and MBL. Banks have special vouchers for Khalti cash deposits. There are also special “Khalti Sewakendra” in multiple locations around Nepal for loading funds in the e-Wallet. A user can also request funds from friends using their mobile number or email.
Fund transfer between Khalti users is also easy and it can be done using wallet funds, eBanking, and mobile banking. Khalti provides easy fund transfer to banks, Cooperative, and Sahakari organizations. This is a good service because there are many people who use services from cooperative financial institutions.
Khalti has a wide range of service providers in the remittance section. They have partnered with Nepal Remit, NIC Asia remit, Bhatbhateni money transfer, City Express, I-Pay, Mega Remittance, Remit2Nepal, and Samsara Remit. User can send money to people anywhere in Nepal and receive in the wallet as well. Agent pickup is also available at different locations. The remittance can be tracked and commissions can also be seen on the website.
Coupons, Cashback and Loyalty Rewards
Khalti provides a lot of promotions including coupons, codes, and loyalty points. Each payment made in the platform provides Khalti points to the users which can be used to redeem loyalty or balance coupons. The company also provides coupon codes with discounts on payments on multiple occasions. Khalti also provides cashback on different services such as mobile topup and internet bill payment.
Khalti provides multiple offline services when there is no internet connection. Users can perform mobile top ups and pay internet bills using SMS. We just need to simply go into the app and select the service we need. Then just fill in details with the payment amount and complete the process through SMS. Offline or SMS service actually makes for a good mobile wallet because we can perform digital transactions without the internet as well.
3) IME Pay
IME Pay is owned by the IME Group of Nepal. They are one of the biggest business houses in the country. IME Group owns and operates Global IME Bank, Global IME Capital, Hathway Investment, IME Remit, IME General Insurance, and IME Life Insurance company limited. This is one of those companies that have a huge background in financial services. IME Pay is a true mobile wallet because it is only available on the mobile app. There is no website version of their platforms so application is the only way to go on smartphones.
The IME mobile wallet actually has the third highest downloads and reviews in mobile app stores. This shows the popularity of the service. The company and its payment platform have grown significantly due to the services and robustness. They offer some unique features which make them a great wallet and payment gateway.
IME Pay mobile app offers a virtual card to the users. It is free and instantly available for all users with KYC verification. Currently, the company has partnered with Visa to provide the virtual card. It is one of the most important and unique features among all online payment service providers. One might ask that why would someone need a virtual card when almost anyone has a real ATM, debit, or credit card. The answer is simplicity, flexibility, and security. The IME Pay virtual card is secure because it needs authentication prior to using and it can easily be locked/unlocked. It is not linked to the bank and the payment limit is the wallet fund only. The authentication can be done using PIN or biometrics.
Actually, the best use case for a virtual card is online payment. You can use this card to make payments in online shopping portals, e-commerce sites, and for services. In this way, one doesn’t need to provide the original information of a real card from a bank. Moreover, the card can pay in both NPR and INR. Therefore you can also pay when you are in India.
We also see a higher potential for this card in the future. Cardless ATMs can be dominant soon and people may just need to tap their phone or use OTP at machines for withdrawing and deposit. In such a case, a virtual card can totally replace physical cards. This can be safer because card skimming won’t be possible and it will be environmentally friendly as the plastic cards are eradicated.
Mobile App Experience
The IME Pay mobile wallet app is very simple and fast. It has been its core strength all along with its collection of services. The app shows wallet balance, utility, bill payment options, remittance section, QR scan section, bank section, and fund-related functions on the home page. Sending money to another IME Pay wallet user is also easy with simple steps. On top of that, there is an easy remittance service as well in send option and the “Remittance” section.
The app offers two main features, one is a wallet and another is a card. Switching to the virtual card is very easy. Users need to authenticate using PIN or biometric and then the card details are shown to the user. This makes the operation secure and fast.
In the mobile app, there is a “Favourites” section where users can set favorite and frequent transactions such as mobile topup and bill payments for specific numbers or customers. For example, if you regularly recharge your phone then set it up with your phone number and it will show at top of the page. As the detail is already added, all that is needed is to enter the amount and pay. This makes regular payments easier.
For security purposes, the app provides an app lock at the time of opening where users need to provide a PIN or biometrics. This is also used for transaction purposes and makes working secure. IME App is also Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliant which means it has very high security standards.
IME Pay app has all the facilities of a mobile wallet. There is easy fund load using mobile banking, e-banking, Connect IPS, IME agents, debit, and credit cards. We find Connect IPS to the best option right after direct bank linking. Bank withdrawal feature is also available which includes support to multiple banks. The bill payment service supports utilities such as landline or PSTN telephone, water bill, TV, Internet, mobile recharge, data pack, and electricity bill.
Financial payment section provides support to pay EMI, insurance premium, credit card bill, Demat renewal, Mero share renewal, stock broker charges, and fee payments to different institutes. There is also support for paying traffic fines, government revenues, Loksewa (PSC) fees, passport fees, and IRD payments.
Domestic flight ticket booking, event tickets, movie tickets, and cable car booking are also available. People can also use IME Pay for online portals such as Daraz, Foodmandu, Bhojdeals, Sastodeal, and Merolagani.
Perks and Membership Rewards
Just like other digital wallets, IME Pay also provides cashback and reward points. They offer very good cashback for making payments. Certain payments also provide reward points to the users. These reward points are used to calculate membership levels. The levels are Member, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Every level has added benefits such as redeemable cash and reward points multiplication. Users can collect points and upgrade their membership automatically. Moreover redeeming the points doesn’t affect the tier.
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4) Prabhu Pay
PrabhuPAY is a digital wallet that provides payment services from both mobile app and website. This is owned by Prabhu Group which also owns Prabhu Bank, Prabhu TV, and Prabhu Digital. The conglomerate even serves internet connection through FTTH with IPTV service. They are a financial and technical giant. Overall they are a very big business group in the Nepali fintech industry.
Prabhu Pay also has a very high volume of app store ratings compared to other competition. They are providing a digital wallet service because the service is available through both mobile app and the website. This is a better approach because people can perform the transactions on the computer as well.
Experience and Usability
The Prabhu Pay wallet app is simple to use and looks good. The design of both the website and app are very clean as they should be. Users can log in to the website using a password. Similarly, users can also use a password or their fingerprint to login into the app. The app has many security options such as app startup lock, MPIN, password, and E-commerce PIN. This helps to provide many levels of security to wallet users. All of these are available inside the account settings.
The website and app of PrabhuPAY show balance and most used services at the front of the home screen. All the services are categorized for ease. There are sections such as Services, Fund Transfer, Merchants, Tickets, and events. All other payment beneficiaries are categorized according to the service they provide. For example, telecom companies and recharge are under Phone Topup, ISPs are under Internet, airlines are under Flight, and so on. This means every service is well managed and easily reachable.
Functions, Payments and Rewards
Users of Prabhu Pay mobile wallet can easily load money using internet banking, linked banks, mobile banking, SCT card, debit/credit card, and NCHL Connect IPS. Users can also send money to other users of the wallet with the receiver’s phone number or email address. There is a remittance function in partnership with iPay remit and their own Prabhu Money Transfer. There is also a feature of cash withdrawal at Prabhu Money Transfer agents, Prabhu Co-Operative Service Agents, and Prabhu Bank Limited Branch. So they have a very tightly integrated service inside their whole network.
Inside the app and website, there are payment options for the water bills, electricity bills, recharge cards, mobile topup, television service, OTT recharge, and internet bills. There is support for financial service payment such as insurance premiums, capital market, Mero share, Demat, and bank deposit. People can even pay government revenues and traffic fines. The platform also supports transferring money to Sahakari and Cooperatives. People can also book flight tickets, bus tickets, movie tickets, pay for online stores and health care services. QR Code scan and pay function is also available inside the app.
Users of Prabhu Pay can obtain reward points for bill payments. These points can be redeemed to get services such as mobile recharge, movie tickets, vouchers, internet subscription, flight tickets, smartphone, TV, laptop, and even international tour package. The company is offering some of the highly lucrative rewards in the industry.
Offgrid and Offline
When there is no internet service, the PrabhuPAY app can provide wallet service through SMS. This mode allows people to check their balance, transfer wallet funds to other users, pay for television, pay internet bills, topup their phones, and get mobile recharge PIN. Users can also check their saved tickets when offline. The availability of offline tickets and booking is very important while traveling.
Moru is a mobile wallet that is owned by Pay Nep Private Limited. They are a new company in the industry but they have grabbed a good market share. This has to do with the features and functions they provide. Pay Nep Private Limited is the sixth Payment Service Provider (PSP) to be licensed by NRB. Moru has good support with contributors that include Prabhu Technology, Neology Next, Rara Labs, nPay, Cloud Himalaya, Reanda Biz Serve, Nepal Clearing House, and PayPoint Nepal.
Mobile App Design and Features
The mobile app of Moru is similar to other mobile wallets but the UI is a bit different. The front home screen of the application shows the user, wallet balance, load option, and bank transfer option. The big center potion shows recent transactions. Most other apps have a small section of recent transactions in history. The app also provides a QR code scan feature, remittance option, bill payment services, sending and requesting buttons on the home page. Mainly all the payment options are inside the bill payment section.
The app however lacks many security-related features such as login app lock, MPIN, biometric security integration, and e-commerce PIN. The UI also needs change because utility bill payment and other necessary things should be at the front when starting the app.
Bill Payments and Business
Under the Services section that can be navigated through the Pay Bill option, we can find multiple services. Moru supports all the regular beneficiaries and services such as mobile top-up, landline bill payment, water bill settlement, electricity charge settlement, flight booking, bus ticketing, internet bill payment, data pack purchase, insurance premium, and TV service payment. There is also a payment service for government beneficiaries such as the Traffic police and social security fund. People can also settle credit card bills, broker payments, and purchase Antivirus software.
Moru has one big strong advantage with the business features. The app allows users to verify business KYC and make business account easily. This is great for many small sellers and entrepreneurs. People can add business information, bank details, official documents and get business features. Users can also create QR codes to receive payment.
Conclusion and Choice
We have reviewed each of these applications by installing them on our phone and doing full KYC. Each of them has its own specialty. One wallet has more features, while another has a better experience, another has better cashback and perks. None of them is perfect because not everyone has everything. As every wallet is free to use, you are always welcome to install and see which gives better service. If there is more perk with one service provider, definitely go with them. We are always pro-consumer so our recommendation is the one where the user has benefits. Don’t stick to one and always keep experimenting. With every new update, each wallet becomes better so keep testing.
Currently, almost every bank in Nepal has its own banking app and e-service portal. But in reality, people have many bank accounts. Bank mobile apps also don’t have all the services and features that a person might need. Money transfer and payment are also limited. So digital wallets and mobile wallets help in that case.
Nepali products and digital payment services are great. However, it would be better if international service would also be available as well. It would be great to have Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay in Nepal as well. Those would add competition and bring out better results.
For now, these are our choices and if we have left anything do let us know in the comments.