Digital signature to become reality from October 2The online service frees investors from having to visit the office to provide their signature, officials said.
The Office of the Company Registrar has finally decided to implement digital signature, seven years after it was officially adopted and declared valid.
From October 2, the government keeper of records will give official recognition to digital signatures to make life easier for investors by simplifying the company registration process, officials said.
"Investors will no longer need to make a trip to the office to provide their signature," said Shekhar Babu Karki, assistant registrar at the Office of the Company Registrar. “With this, the company registration process will be fully digital.”
He said that the registration process had been available online for some time, but it was not fully digital.
Issuing a notice on September 10, the Office of the Company Registrar said that all new and old companies would need to provide model digital signatures on the system.
According to the notice, the option of a physical signature also exists.
Interested service seekers need to get the digital signature key from the government by contacting the concerned agency.
“The objective is to make administrative work fast, easy, credible and technology-friendly,” said Karki. “It will minimise unnecessary crowds at the office.”
A digital signature is a special government-certified identification code which is used to authenticate digital information such as documents and e-mail messages by the sender or the signatory to a document, and ensures that the document is unchanged and genuine.
Companies or trust service providers that have been established with the objective of helping other companies in registration and administration have been requested to prepare the needed infrastructure to provide the service digitally.
The Office of the Company Registrar has hired Info Developers for the implementation of the digital service.
"The company registration fee can be paid online through various payment service providers," Karki said.
In the last fiscal year, 5,118 companies with a combined paid-up capital of Rs55.87 billion were registered.
“Online company registration and digital signature technology are essential to minimise corruption, save time and encourage private investment,” said Hem Raj Dhakal, vice-president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the apex private sector body.
“We have requested the government to provide online service for registration and cancellation of companies in all seven provinces,” Dhakal said.
An investor has to run around 15 different desks at the administration to register a new company. In many cases, according to entrepreneurs, they have to pay Rs15,000 to Rs20,000 to register small and medium-scale companies promptly.
The private sector has been requesting the government to provide one-stop service to register a company.
As per the budget for the current fiscal year which began mid-July, a company can be registered with a minimum authorised capital of Rs100.
The budget has also announced adopting a full-fledged digital registration process. No fees will be charged for company registration or capital increment.
“Obviously, full online service is a welcome step. It is also the international practice,” Dhakal said.
Officials say that once digital signatures become operational at the Company Registrar, it will help the Customs Office to adopt full digitisation in trade too.
“We are looking at how effectively it will be implemented. The government should also make digital infrastructure strong and secure,” said Dhakal.
"To increase revenue, develop entrepreneurship, encourage youth entrepreneurs and move towards a transparent economy, a digital economy is a must," Dhakal said.
Nepal launched digital signatures in 2012 but the technology could not be implemented due to inadequate infrastructure at that time.
On December 2, 2015, the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology and the Office of the Controller of Certification, the root certifying authority of Nepal, declared the official adoption and validity of digital signatures in Nepal.