We are on the brink of the digital revolution. This digital transformation is affecting how we work, socialize, and create economic value. This revolution is characterized by the fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between physical and cyber spheres. And it is rather exponential than other previous revolutions as it is disrupting industries in every country one way or the other.
While digital transformation was slow and steady in case of developing nations like ours before 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic-induced global crisis has accelerated the rise of the digital economy. The outbreak of Coronavirus has paused the growth of the traditional brick-and-motor businesses and the service industry and we are witnessing that some businesses are more critical to our lives than we’ve ever imagined such as the information and communication technologies (ICT) industry.
Today, the ICT industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in Nepal. There are currently 120+ eCommerce companies and more than 2 dozen mobile wallet companies. Because of COVID-19, we have seen exponential growth in online shopping. The online transactions have surged by 5 times and banks and financial institutions have stepped into full-fledged Digital Banking.
Like other nations across the globe, Nepal has also gone through a series of lockdowns and shutdowns this year with government authorities urging people to stay inside their homes and limit human-to-human contact. During these restricted months, many people, especially the urban populace, have opted to go online via their smartphones and computers as a lifeline to substitute their in-person activities. Now, these digital technologies have become enablers to bridge the gap created by these lockdowns and lack of human connection. People must rely on these digital technologies which give the sheer opportunity to telework, telemedicine, food delivery and logistics, online and contactless payments, remote learning, and entertainment. This has become a “New Normal” now.
While this “New Normal” has brought various activities online as much as possible, we believe many of them are here to stay including flexible online works popularly known as ‘work from home’, online and contactless payments, telemedicine, food deliveries, e-commerce, to name a few. While the consumers are happy and accustomed to getting these services online, is our economy actually ready for these ground shifting changes? Will these trends continue in the post pandemic world? Yes, going digital is the only way of surviving your business right now, but are the policies in Nepal support these changes? Which industries are hardly hit by this pandemic and which industries are booming? Should the government impose restrictions on a few market players or should it let the economy welcome healthy competition on the market on ICT companies with suitable policies? How far have we come on this journey of digital transformation and where do we stand in comparison to other emerging economies? This is what the discourse of the “Fonepay Digital Economy Conclave” will focus on. This conclave organized by Brandworth, in collaboration with AP1 Television and other partners is a one-day symposium to dwell and discuss the above questions.