A recent study conducted by Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) shows that financial access in Nepal has expanded to around 61 percent of the total population of the country. Meanwhile, commercial banks have reached 739 local levels out of the total of 753 local level units, increasing access to banking in Nepal. This is as per the ‘Status of Financial Access in Nepal’ survey by NRB.


Important findings from ‘Status of Financial Access in Nepal’ Survey


1. 60.9 % population has a bank account


According to a study on ‘Status of Financial Access in Nepal’ released by the NRB’s Research Department in October 2019, the number of deposit accounts has reached 18 million, which is 60.9 percent of the total population of Nepal. The study finds that as of mid-June 2019, the ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ class Banks and Financial Institutions (BFIs) had 27.867 million deposit accounts of both national and foreign citizens. By reducing multiple accounts net 18 million personal deposit accounts resulted, on that basis financial access has expanded to 60.9 percent.


2. Number of branches of BFIs doubles in four years


The number of branches of BFIs licensed by NRB has doubled in the last four years; the number of branches has reached 8,686 in mid-July 2019. This compared to 4,274 in mid-July 2016. In line with the policy of having at least one branch of a Commercial Bank in all local levels, the presence of commercial banks has expanded to 739 local levels as compared to the presence in 296 local levels in mid-July 2017. The branches of commercial banks are yet to be expanded in 14 local levels, out of a total of 753.


3. Size of average population per branch decreases


The size of the average population per branch is gradually decreasing with the expansion of branches of BFIs. The average population per branch was 6,562 in mid-July 2016 while it is reduced to 3,363 in mid-July 2019.

According to the study, the average population per branch is lowest in Gandaki province (2,257) while it is highest in Karnali province (4,958).


4. Expansion of digital and electronic technology in banking services


There is also a significant expansion of the use of electronic technology in banking services in recent times. The number of ATM centers has been expanded to 3,316 in mid-July 2019 while it was 1,908 in mid-July 2016. Likewise, the number of debit cards has risen to 67, 08,524 from 46 57,125 in the same period.

As per the study, the number of mobile banking users was 1.75 million in 2016 however it has been increased by five times to 9 million till 2019. Also, the numbers of internet banking users have been increased from 5,15,465 to 9,17,344 in the same period. The study concludes that the numerical growth of BFIs, the expansion of branches, the increase in the use of financial technology, and the expansion of financial access have accelerated.

With the expansion of bank branches and innovations in banking technology, access to banking in Nepal is growing rapidly. And, the country is close to meeting basic financial inclusion goals.


Status of commercial banks’ coverage and access to banking in Nepal


As per the latest data of Nepal Rastra Bank, there are a total of 28 Commercial Banks, 25 Development Banks, 22 Finance Companies, and 91 Micro Credit Development Banks in Nepal. (List of Banks in Nepal)

Presence of Commercial Banks in Local Bodies



No. of Local Levels  Local Bodies presence with Commercial Banks Local Bodies with no presence of commercial banks
Mid-July, 2018 Mid-July, 2019
Province 1 137 112 136 1
Province 2 136 122 134 2
Province 3 119 107 117 2
Gandaki Province 85 74 84 1
Province 5 109 99 109 0
Karnali Province 79 54 77 2
Far-western Province 88 63 82 6
Total 753 631 739 14

(This table shows the presence of commercial banks across provinces and local bodies in Nepal, and the level of access to banking in Nepal.)


What caused growth in access to banking in Nepal?


As per the Global Findex database, only 45 percent of the adult population in Nepal had a bank account in 2017. In 2018, Nepal Rastra Bank ordered commercial banks to open bank branches in all local bodies of Nepal and expand banking services. Likewise, the Nepal government in coordination with Nepal Bankers’ Association launched a national campaign “खोलौ बैंक खाता” (OPEN BANK ACCOUNT) on the occasion of Nepali new year 2076 BS.  The campaign, which will run throughout the year 2076, focuses on opening the bank accounts of Nepali citizens who currently do not have any bank account. As per the guidance of Nepal Rastra Bank, the account opening process has been simplified and for all the accounts opened under this program, the bank will deposit Rs.100 into the customer’s account. The government aims to open bank accounts of every Nepali within a year of the campaign launch. This Kholau bank khaata campaign is expected to bring financial inclusion to the unbanked population of Nepal. Furthermore, the government has already started distributing social security allowance and all other government to citizen payments through banks, to promote banking habits among the citizens.

Read also: How to open a bank account in Nepal and enable mobile and internet banking?