Nepal Bankers’ Association (NBA) hosted 39th Asian Bankers Association (ABA) General Meeting and Conference in Kathmandu on November 9 – 10, 2023. The ABA Conference was doubly significant, as it was the first time that the ABA conducted its annual gathering of members in Nepal and the first face-to-face meeting since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020. The theme of the two-day ABA General Meeting and Conference was ‘Asian Banking: Roadmap for Recovery and Sustained Growth’. The two-day event was designed to provide another valuable platform for ABA members and concerned stakeholders to meet and network with each other, as well as to exchange views with experts.
The first day of the ABA General Meeting and Conference kicked off with an opening ceremony. In the Opening Ceremony NBA President, Mr. Sunil KC delivered welcome remarks, emphasizing the Conference theme. He highlighted the focus on how banks in Asia plan to overcome challenges and maintain steady growth. Furthermore, Mr. KC noted that Asia stands as a powerhouse, characterized by diverse economies, rich cultural heritage, and remarkable growth potential. He emphasized the role of the banking industry in Asia as a key driver of economic progress, facilitating trade and investment, and fostering financial inclusion.
Delivering a Special Address Hon. Governor of Nepal Rastra Bank, Mr. Maha Prasad Adhikari talked about how the banking system has been facing immense challenges from a global uncertain environment and said that the country’s economy is in a normal state despite various challenges. He highlighted that the rapid technological change has benefited the banking system a lot and this has been transforming banking while stressing its sustainability. Furthermore, he said that this type of event would be highly beneficial for the banking and financial sector to understand the real problems and to find out the ways to overcome from such problems. He acknowledged the Asian Bankers Association for choosing Nepal for its 39th AGM and also thanked the Nepal Bankers’ Association for hosting the AGM.
The Keynote Speaker of the event, Finance Minister of Nepal Hon. Mr. Prakash Sharan Mahat, said that there has been impressive growth in banking and financial institutions over the years. He further urged banks from Asia to invest in Nepal, stating that the government will promote green energy through policy measures. He said Nepal has set the target of achieving the zero-carbon emission goal by 2045 making all sectors of the economy carbon-free. Finance Minister Mahat further said that the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have also expressed their commitment to invest in the mega hydroelectric projects in Nepal and assured that the government will create an investment-friendly climate to attract foreign direct investment.
Delivering the closing remarks, ABA Chairman, Mr. Eugene S. Acevedo, said that the global economy is becoming increasingly digitalized, and certain emerging technologies have the potential to be truly transformative, even though they present new challenges for bankers. He also said, Fintech innovators have emerged into the scene, equipped with capital and chasing scale ahead of financial returns, while new consumer trends continue to re-shape the evolving role of banks. Mr. Acevedo stressed the necessity for robust banking growth and a resilient banking sector for a strong recovery from the past three years’ pandemic and for sustainable growth in the future. He highlighted that banks must adapt their operating models to enhance efficiency and resilience. Furthermore, he suggested that, to mitigate the risk of fraud or cyber threats, banks should enhance their risk management capabilities to handle credit inquiries securely in a remote environment.
The opening ceremony was followed by panel discussions and presentations. The two days General Meeting and Conference discussed various pertaining issues, primarily focusing on the current trends and developments in the regional and global markets that are expected to have a significant impact on the banking and financial sector of the region and how industry players can address the challenges and take full advantage of the opportunities.
The Conference brought together more than 300 dignitaries, including banking experts, professionals, and a wide range of delegates from over 25 Asian and Non-Asian countries as well as high-level officials from the Government of Nepal, the Central Bank, the Board of Directors of BFls, CEOs, and other high-ranking officials from the Nepalese financial sector.