Phurpa Lhamo  | Wangdue

Officials of five different banks in Wangdue started to deliver cash for those without digital banking mobile applications and services beginning August 15.

Wangdue dzongkhag Covid-19 task force directed five banks—Bank of Bhutan (BOB), Bhutan Development Bank Limited (BDBL), T-Bank, Druk Punjab National Bank (DPNB) and Bhutan National Bank (BNB)— on August 14 to cater services through designated officials to those who were in need of cash.

According to the dzongkhag task force, the BOB has received the most number of individuals withdrawing cash. A total of 13 individuals withdrew over Nu 65,000 until yesterday.

The bank has also provided the agent bankers with cash in case of demand from the residents in their areas.

Financial institutes focal person in Wangdue, DB Rai said that the bank officials tried to ensure that the recipients were in fact in need of these services.

“It was to ensure that minimum movement was involved while people continued to receive services.”

The dzongkhag task force has fixed a withdrawal ceiling of Nu 10,000. However, exceptions would be made for those in difficult circumstances.

Security personnel or De-Suups also accompany bank officials during service delivery to ensure safety and to monitor that the health safety protocols are maintained.

As of yesterday, BDBL delivered around Nu 19,000 to three individuals who sought cash.

BDBL Wangdue branch manager said that because almost 90 percent of the BDBL customers were from rural areas, the officials in Wangdue had informed gups of the service. Village tshogpas are asked to collect and share information on those who need cash.

These information—name, identity card numbers, phone numbers and account numbers, are later shared with the gups and further with the bank officials.

A resident of Wangdue, Tshering Dorji, said that with the sudden announcement of lockdown, he didn’t have cash and his rations were running out at home.

“And those who deliver vegetables and other items require cash or payment through other digital services. We are not educated, so we don’t know how to use them.”

After the dzongkhag administration’s directive, Tshering Dorji withdrew Nu 6,000 and has given his essential items list to the Rinchengang tshogpa, Thedtsho gewog.

The BNB officials delivered Nu 15,000 in total to two individuals in Wangdue. Vehicles are provided by the dzongkhag or the gewog administration for the delivery of cash. However, a majority of the bank officials have volunteered to provide the services with their vehicles.

As of yesterday, DPNB and T-Bank have not received any requests but remain ready with their service.