Get Ready for Cross Border Card Payments: How to Get a Prepaid Dollar Card from the Banks?

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Gone are the days where you would have been complaining about how you couldn’t get that Netflix subscription or buy a domain for your website. Finally, the banks are on a spree to issue a Prepaid Dollar Card to their customers for making international payments online from Nepal.

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Abiding by the circular issued by NRB on 21st March 2021, a total of 46 commercial and development banks have started to issue prepaid dollar cards to their customers. As per the rule, a customer can obtain only one single prepaid card which could be used to make payments up to $500 in a year.

What is a Prepaid Dollar Card?

Prepaid dollar card looks like a typical debit/credit card which could be used to make international payments online. Unlike other cards, you can not use it for ATM or POS purposes. As per the current rule by NRB, the account is to be maintained in USD or in any currency equivalent to the maximum limit of $500. It means, you can make international payments through this prepaid card either at once or repeatedly to the maximum limit of $500 annually with a renewal facility after a year.

The uses of it?

Well, international payments are finally allowed through this legitimate medium. NRB has allowed the prepaid dollar card holders to make following payments:

  • Paying for Google, Facebook and other ads in social media
  • Netflix, Amazon Prime or other OTT subscriptions
  • Paying for international courses in platforms like Udemy and Coursera
  • Paying for purchase of domain and other web services
  • Paying for purchase via e-commerce sites like Amazon and Ali Baba

Not only that, NRB has been liberal to some extent to the gig economy. The prepaid dollar card can also be used to receive cross-border incomes which is mainly earned by the freelancers. With this circular, NRB has stated that Nepali citizens (with valid documents) will be able to use this card account to receive payments from overseas as well.
Note that one must have filled up the KYC form and should own a PAN number in order to get the prepaid dollar card from the bank.

How to get a Prepaid Dollar Card in Nepal?

  • According to the circular by the Foreign Exchange Management Department of Nepal Rastra Bank, any individual, firm, company can get their cards issued from the respective banks with a maximum limit of $500 or the sum equivalent to that in any other exchangeable currency. Though the processes may vary from bank to bank, NRB has stated some common requirements to become eligible for this card. One must have a PAN number and should update their KYC with their respective banks.
  • Then you must visit your bank (preferably the head office) with your PAN card and fill-up the form to apply for a Prepaid Dollar Card. Depending upon the service of the bank, you may get your card ready within a couple of hours. And it might take 7 to 10 days if you want a card with your name printed on it. The banks may charge some amount for the issuance of cards and loading the sum in this account. Your account would be credited with the amount in the USD rate or equivalent currency value on the issued date.
  • The users must fill up a sworn statement form where they state that they are being issued this card for the first time and would not issue it through any other banks. Similarly, they should agree to the terms and conditions of not using the card for illegitimate purpose or beyond the transaction limit of $500. Otherwise, they could be charged/ punished as per the Foreign Exchange Act, 2019.

Currently, there are 27 commercial banks and 19 development banks that have started delivering this service:

  1. NMB Bank Limited
  2. Nabil Bank Limited
  3. Nepal Bank Limited
  4. Agricultural Development Bank
  5. Nepal Investment Bank
  6. Standard Chartered Bank
  7. Himalayan Bank
  8. Nepal SBI Bank
  9. Nepal Bangladesh Bank
  10. Everest Bank
  11. Kumari Bank
  12. Laxmi Bank
  13. Citizens Bank
  14. Prime Commercial Bank
  15. Sunrise Bank
  16. Century Bank
  17. Sanima Bank
  18. Machhapuchhre Bank
  19. NIC Asia Bank
  20. Global IME Bank
  21. Prabhu Bank
  22. Siddhartha Bank
  23. Bank of Kathmandu
  24. Civil Bank
  25. Nepal Credit and Commerce Bank
  26. Rastriya Banijya Bank
  27. Mega Bank
  28. Garima Bikas Bank
  29. Jyoti Bikash Bank
  30. Kamana Sewa Bikas Bank
  31. Mahalakshmi Bikas Bank
  32. Muktinath Bikas Bank
  33. Shangrila Development Bank
  34. Shine Resunga Development Bank
  35. Lumbini Bikash Bank
  36. Saptakoshi Development Bank
  37. Excel Development Bank
  38. Green Development Bank
  39. Karnali Bikas Bank
  40. Miteri Development Bank
  41. Sindhu Bikash Bank
  42. Tinau Mission Development Bank
  43. Sahara Bikash Bank
  44. Narayani Development Bank
  45. Corporate Development Bank
  46. Salapa Development Bank

The banks may charge their customers as per their own manuals. According to one of the early card users of NMB Bank, they are charged NRS 500 to issue the prepaid dollar card and additional NRS 500 as operating charges for transactions at the time of issuance. Then they can enjoy this service without additional charges with a validity of 5 years and should renew every year.

Similarly, Nabil Bank has also started delivering this service with a charge of NRS 1000 at the time of issuance. It is providing this card with a validity of 4 years where the users should renew their cards annually. According to them, this applies to both individuals or companies.

The fees and charges differ among the banks based upon their own policy. However, it is a welcoming fact that all the commercial banks and some development banks have joined this movement.

Conclusion

Some individuals have already got their prepaid dollar card and are testing with international payments from Nepal. This thing has been creating a buzz since the NRB Governor Maha Prasad Adhikari had hinted at Fonepay Digital Nepal Conclave on the 28th of November 2020. The central bank is sticking to the commitment for fostering digital and financial freedom from its side to Nepalese and has finally approved international payments online which would benefit mostly the freelancers, e-commerce sites, students, IT companies at large since they can make international payments freely with the prepaid dollar card issued to them. This commendable effort would likely enrich the tech start-ups and the budding gig economy in Nepal which could be a great source of inflow of foreign earnings to home.

Have you issued your prepaid dollar card? What were the procedures? Please drop down your comments for references to others.

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