The Royal Government of Bhutan through its G2C (Government to Citizen) initiatives has implemented several online services to improve delivery of citizen services since the 10th Five Year Plan. Though solely for their registered customers, the financial institutions—particularly the banks— have also been providing electronic services such as Internet banking, SMS alerts, and intra-fund transfer for a while now.
However—owing to the lack of a national inter-bank immediate fund transfer infrastructure—those G2C online services with payment components could not be delivered end-to-end through online means. Moreover, individuals were not able to make electronic transactions between accounts maintained with different banks. Thus, Bhutanese citizens at large were not able to get the full benefits of end-to-end online services as envisaged.
As such, in-line with the e-Government master plan and with financial support from the Government of India particularly under the Automate G2G initiative, the Department of Information Technology and Telecom (DITT) under the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) prioritized and initiated the development of e-Payment Gateway Infrastructure in collaboration with the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) of Bhutan. With groundwork starting since early 2015, its actual development started in March 2016.
In January 2017 the Bhutan Immediate Payment Service (BIPS) was launched—an instant interbank electronic fund transfer service through the Internet, Mobile phones and ATMs—enabling citizens to transfer funds between accounts in different banks in the country.
While the BIPS is an important step towards promoting the use of digital payments in Bhutan and will greatly benefit citizens with bank accounts, a big portion of the Bhutanese population that are illiterate and subsistence farmers do not have easy access to banking services. In view of this fact, but also considering that most of the population does have access to mobile phones, MoIC in its 2nd phase will work with RMA to enable Mobile Money Service and eCommerce regulatory requirements under the same G2G initiative. They will also collaborate to look at connecting national payment switches of India and Bhutan, to facilitate the promotion of bilateral trade and the tourism industry.
|Area (sq. km)||38,394|
|Population by sex|
|Health Coverage (%)||90|
|Access to safe drinking water (%)||95|