‘M Bank opened to remove money from Indian companies’
It is said, ‘You and I deliver’. This adage has become a reality in the life of a young man, Vishnu Maharjan, who is digitizing cooperatives through technology.
While Bishnu Maharjan of Kathmandu was studying computer subject at NCCS College, Paknazol, he first dreamed of opening his own software company in Nepal.
He passed his Bachelor in IT in 2007. He entered IT for the first time in 2008 at Annapurna Finance. He worked in IT for 2 years in Annapurna Finance. While there, he created the IT department. He then joined Narayani National Finance.
By the time he joined, the merger had already started in Nepal. At that time, he got a chance to work in Nepal’s first merger company. However, along with the opportunity, he had a mountain of challenges. Because one is Kathmandu’s finance and the other is Chitwan’s. At that time, the challenge for him was to include two cooperatives with different locations and software in one software.
He says, ‘The first time I merged two different cooperatives and created a single software was a very challenging task. Because one cooperative was in Kathmandu and the other was in Chitwan. The systems of both cooperatives were very different. I had to stay for a month. Because the two systems were different. The challenge was to merge and make one. It was like chewing on an iron chin for me.’
He made his hard work and idea successful and after four and a half years, one software was ready. Then he worked there as Head of Department. He was looking for more work in technology.
He then took his steps towards Microfinance and he started working in Nirdhan Utthan Microfinance. There were also quite a few challenges. It was very difficult for him to overcome those challenges.
Nirdhan Utthan had 77 branches all over the country. All those branches were to be merged and brought to the center which was a high risk task. He had to work hard to bring the branch offices to the Central Office statistics. All data and software had to be moved from each branch.
About 200 branches had to be monitored by themselves. There was no IT department in Nirdhan. Similarly, he started the work by calling the IT experts working in the regional branch to Kathmandu. It took him a year to do that. At that time Nirdhan Utthan had issued a big tender saying that we needed internet. He claims that World Link has brought internet to all 77 districts as Net for the poor.
He says, ‘Nirdhan called for tenders saying they wanted internet for all their branches. Because we had to move all the data from the area to the center. At that time, World Link brought internet to all 77 districts and announced itself as the first ISP to bring internet to all 77 districts. ‘
He wanted to refine himself further in technology. He had a passion for new research and innovation in the development of technology. Then he jumped from poverty to a multi-national company that came to Nepal from India and made software. The company’s office was located in Thapathali. He got an opportunity to work as a company head in that company.
Then finally he got the idea that the software company would work like this. He realized that he is not only as an IT consumer but now as a software maker. He now started making software according to the designs requested by banks and financial institutions.
He says, ‘First I was an IT consumer. After becoming the country head in a multi-national company, I had to create software according to the client’s demand. Now suddenly I became a software maker from an IT consumer. After this I got exposure.’
He worked in that multinational company for one year. Another friend who worked with him in the company was Sanjay Mahaseth. Mahaseth was the marketing head. After they worked in the company for a year, complaints started coming from all around.
He says, ‘All the company’s work was done in India. Couldn’t have served customers better from India. There was no engineer in Kathmandu. All work was done from India. But we were always under pressure from customers. The customer was going to make a lot of hassles. Which is not possible in Nepal. We always focused on the customer. Then we thought it would be great to have our own software company. Because if an Indian company can come to Nepal and make software, why can’t we do that? ‘
And then Sahakari M Bank started
Indian multinational companies were working in Nepal targeting banking and financial sectors. He claims that Indians are making a lot of money in Nepal by making software from there, but they are not providing any service.
He says, ‘The Indians wanted to open a branch office of the company in Nepal but to do the work from India. When we worked in that company, the engineers were all from India. They had the upper hand. They used to provide cheap service to the Nepali client at the beginning and then make them charge for every inconvenience. It was an umbrella for Indian companies. We wanted to remove it and we ourselves opened a company in 2016.’
They named the company M Bank and said that it was aimed at service or cooperation. Initially, they rented a room in Madhyabaneshwar and ran an office.
He says, ‘Me and my friend Mahaseth took a room in Madhyabaneshwar and started working.’The first thing they did was buy the API of Sparrow SMS and make SMS banking software. At that time, he did a trial at Sahakari Bhargava, which was also free of charge.
He says, ‘We did a trial at Sahakari Bhargav next door. After that trial test was successful, we gradually developed the mobile banking software.’
For the co-operatives, they provided mobile banking services for the first time to Navjeevan Cooperative in Dhangadhi. Then they also provided mobile banking services at Kankai Bikas Bank in Damak. He says that for the first time, he created the software in collaboration with Mercantile’s Poomeri. Currently, M Bank has 40 core banking software partners like Poomri.
Vishnu Maharjan says, ‘We started with mobile banking. For the first time, we made M Bank mobile banking software by collaborating with Mercantai and partnering with Poomri software. In addition, he says that there are currently 40 partner companies. He says, ‘M Bank runs on almost any cooperative software that the cooperatives are using now.’
MBanking More Modifications in Lockdown
Earlier, only top-up and recharge was done through mobile banking. When the lockdown happened. Then people were afraid to go out. They started staying inside the house to be safe first and then to do other things.
As a solution, he added the facility of sending money from the cooperative to the bank for the first time in Nepal in the MBank mobile banking software.
He says, ‘During the corona epidemic, even when people do not leave their homes, we have added this technology by staying at home. Then we added the service of sending money from the bank to the cooperative to make it easier for everyone. In that, we have made it possible to get facilities from e-services, wallets and other gateways recognized by the National Bank.’
He says that it is now being used on both sides. ‘Now it is possible to send and receive money from the cooperative to the bank and from the bank to the cooperative, this has brought relief to many people and customers of the cooperative. Now, according to him, many new features have been added to the M Bank app. In the M Bank app, you can now transfer the balance in your account, check the balance, view the statement, view the loan information, phone, net, TV, recharge. Similarly, digital wallets such as eSeva, Khalti, Easy Pay, Prabhu Pay, IME Pay, Pay Well, My Pay, Namaste Pay can be loaded, electricity bill, water bill payment, bus and air tickets, hotel booking, QR payment etc. Services are available. ‘
He explains that new technologies such as Nepal QR and Smart QR will soon be added. He says, ‘Earlier, people used to stand in queues for revenue money, renewal of blue books, withdrawing and depositing money in banks. Now everyone is online from mobile. It has made a new leap in technology. Because people have already started paying water and electricity bills online. ‘
Digital literacy is the main challenge in m-banking
He says that there is very little awareness about mobile banking among those who do business through cooperatives. He says, ‘Banks have a level. But that is not convenient in cooperatives. Because cooperatives are made by going to village toll and reminding (understanding). This poses some challenges in m-banking. It is natural that village women, parents, community members are very confused and not aware of how to operate m-bank. The main challenge today is to prevent this from happening.
M banking services for more than 700 people, jobs for 38 people
Our technology mobile banking platform “M Bank” has entered its eighth year, which has been continuing the work of connecting cooperatives with mobile banking.
Established with the aim of connecting cooperatives with mobile banking and technology, M Bank is a company that started seven years ago from a room in Madhyabaneshwar, Kathmandu.
M Bank, which has been in operation with a room in Baneshwar, Kathmandu, providing SMS bank services, has now become a company that reaches across the country by providing mobile banking services to more than 7,000 cooperatives.
He says that he is happy that the organization that started with an investment of 12,000 has now become a company with a valuation of 500 million. His company currently has 38 employees.
He says, ‘In an organization started by 2 people from a room for 12,000, today nearly three dozen people are directly employed and I am happy to connect the cooperative to mobile banking and online technology.’
According to him, M Bank has been working to connect the cooperative and the bank to make it easier for the members of the cooperative to make payments and receive payments through the use of mobile banking.
The use of the app developed by M Bank has reduced the need for members of the cooperative to stand in line to collect their deposits and make payments.
Bishnu Maharjan, the founder and chief executive officer of M Bank, says that he has provided mobile banking to all the cooperatives associated with him and aims to make more and more cooperatives technology-friendly in the future.
Images mentioned above related to are either copyright property of ICT-Samachar or respective image owners.