Nepal says bans WeChat Payment, Alipay

KATHMANDU (Reuters) – Nepal has banned popular Chinese digital payment apps WeChat Payment and AliPay, payments of non-registered systems were illegal and that results in a loss of income to the Himalayan nation, a spokesman of the central bank said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Wechat Pay sign is shown on a Wechat Pay pop-up store in Shanghai, China, 20 January, 2018. Photo taken on January 20, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

Laxmi Prapanna Niroula, a spokesperson for the Nepal Rastra Bank, said that the two digital payment platforms are not registered with the regulatory authority in Nepal, but are widely used by Chinese tourists for the settlement of the payments with the companies.

“A digital transaction is made with non-registered foreign payment system such as WeChat Payment and AliPay is illegal,” Niroula told Reuters. “Anyone using such platforms can be punished,” he said.

Under Nepali law, anyone found guilty of embezzling foreign currency can be sentenced to three years in prison.

WeChat Pay, which on Tencent’s messaging and e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Alipay, the two most important platforms on the mainland of China. They are widely used by Chinese tourists for making payments to Chinese-run hotels, restaurants and other activities in Nepal as the payment giants are looking abroad.

Tencent said WeChat Pay in the overseas division “strictly in accordance with all regulations in the countries operated.

“As for illegal debt collection abroad, we are constantly using technical means to rise and to prevent this problem,” he said. “The vendors need to work with WeChat to Pay the partners to enable WeChat to Pay the collection of services.”

Alibaba’s affiliate Ant Financial said Alipay cross-border payments in Nepal were normal.

“Alipay strictly in accordance with the local rules and regulations in all the markets where we are active, such as abroad,” Ant Financial said.

“We ask that all users adhere to the Alipay Collection QR-Code-Agreement by the use of our QR code payment services. We have strengthened our measures to avoid future cases where some users were wrongfully collected payments outside of China, the domestic use of QR codes,” he said.

Nepal, home of Mount Everest and birthplace of Buddha, has received 1.1 million tourists in 2018 – one of them 153,000 were Chinese visitors, the second largest number after Indian tourists that a total of 200,000. China and India to affect people of Nepal, a natural buffer between them.

Niroula, the central bank spokesman, said that these apps were using Nepal’s internet connection, but the transactions were made in China and are not reflected in the Himalayan nation’s national accounts.

“The government does not tax such transactions, nor does it examine all crimes committed in connection with such non-registered payment systems,” Niroula said. The ban takes effect from Monday, ” he said.

Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Additional reporting by Josh Horwitz in SHANGHAI; Editing by Martin Howell and Anshuman Daga

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