Chhimi Dema  

To allow Indian citizens to make instant and secure payments to businesses in Bhutan, the Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan (RMA) and the National Payments Corporation of India launched a cross-border Quick Response (QR) code payment called Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) in Thimphu yesterday.

With the BHIM app, Indian citizens from within Bhutan and India can make payments by scanning the BHIM QR codes that the Bhutanese merchants can avail themselves from local financial institutions.

BHIM is based on the Unified Payments Interface that merges multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application of any participating bank to enable seamless fund transfer or payments.

During the launch, Finance Minister Namgay Tshering said that the launch marked a key milestone between Bhutan and India in the digital payment space to connect and provide payment services using innovative financial technologies.

He said that the payment facility would promote cashless transactions to enhance convenience and safety for customers and merchant businesses, support expansion of business, and help monitor the flow of business transactions within the economy.

BHIM is also expected to improve business transparency and reduce costs associated with the printing of currency, according to the Minister.

There are 23,792 businesses accepting QR code payments and 356,157 registered users for QR code payments in the country today.

“In Bhutan, the general acceptability of domestic QR codes as a safe alternative to cash or any other means of payment has surged especially during the pandemic,” Lyonpo said, adding that this indicated Bhutanese’s preferences for cashless transactions and payments.

The launch was attended by the Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, along with the officials from RMA, Indian Embassy, financial institutions, and foreign ministry.

The launch included a live transaction by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman making a cashless payment through BHIM app by scanning the QR code of OGOP (One Gewog One Product).

According to the press release from Indian Embassy, the commitment to launch BHIM in Bhutan stems from the joint statement issued during the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit in August 2019.