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In August 2019, while addressing students at the Royal University of Bhutan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that no country in the world understood each other as well or shared as much as India and Bhutan. , and that New Delhi and Thimphu are “natural partners” in bringing prosperity to their people.

These words embody the spirit of collaboration between India and Bhutan, a collaboration that continues to keep pace with the demands of our ever-changing world.

India and Bhutan stand out as the epitome of exceptional neighborly relations – a bond that goes beyond a mere political bond but rather one of friendship and compassion. Friendship is rooted in our Dharma, a sacred thread binding our two countries, sculpting our connected spiritual heritage. So what we are doing here in Bhutan is not diplomacy, but rather genuine friendship that we choose every day.

Ours is a link with a proud heritage of mutual support over decades. But at the same time one that is not frozen in time. India and Bhutan together look to the future with confidence and confidence, determined to improve the lives of our people.

The philosophy of raw national happiness of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas (Together with all, Development for all, Trust of all) is the ideal that inspires us .

Whether it is a project to design and build a satellite from scratch or a project to create a free information superhighway, our two countries have embarked on projects that use cutting-edge technologies to give wings to the human imagination.

For example, financial technology is one of the fastest growing industries in India, with an endless array of applications that improve people’s daily lives.

Whether it’s scanning a QR code to instantly pay for a cup of coffee (without having to rummage through your purse for money) or transferring money to a friend with just a click of the button. Using your smartphone, technology has made the movement of money fast and seamless. With over 1,300 fintech start-ups and investments worth $ 5.7 billion between 2014 and 2018, India has spearheaded many fintech initiatives, providing the backdrop for the creation and the growth.

For two friends rooted in tradition but always ready to embrace the future, fin-tech opens up a new world of possibilities for cooperation. And so, I would like to say that today is indeed a special day for India and Bhutan.

In August 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a successful state visit to Bhutan, shortly after winning the general election for a second term. The joint declaration of this visit has become a vision document for our two countries to elevate our engagement.

Despite the hurdles posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, technical teams from the Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan and the National Payments Corporation of India have collaborated to bring BHIM – a popular mobile payment app in India – to Bhutan.

The concrete result? Any Indian national can now make quick and easy payments in Bhutan just by scanning the merchant’s QR code with their BHIM app.

Money will flow smoothly from an Indian bank account to a bank account in Bhutan, saving Indian nationals from having to carry money in Bhutan. It also offers Bhutanese traders and traders a new option to accept payments in addition to cash and cards from Indian nationals.

The ability to make payments in cafes and shops in Bhutan will also encourage spending by Indian nationals, who are expected to travel to Bhutan in large numbers once the pandemic subsides, given Bhutan’s formidable reputation as a destination for leading travel.

All up – this is yet another illustration of a cooperation which undoubtedly benefits both parties. Today’s success also builds on the earlier achievements of the RuPay card, a global card payment network from India, which was introduced in Bhutan in two phases.

Phase I launched during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Bhutan in August 2019 enabled RuPay cards issued in India to be accepted at point-of-sale terminals across Bhutan.

Phase II launched in November 2020 made the reverse a reality: RuPay cards issued by Bhutanese banks are now accepted across India. Even in the absence of tourism due to travel constraints imposed by the global pandemic, Rupay cards issued by India recorded a transaction value of around 40 million Nu at ATMs and PoS terminals in Bhutan. .

Likewise, around 2,400 RuPay cards have been issued by Bhutan since November 2020 with a transaction volume of over Rs 4 million.

Since these are the people who are truly at the heart of the Indo-Bhutanese friendship, this single step of financial integration between our two economies will greatly benefit the people of our two countries. One cannot imagine visiting a foreign country without withdrawing money and converting currency in advance. I am proud to say that Bhutan and India are exceptions to this rule.

As ‘Tap, pay, go’ quickly becomes the new mantra in the payments industry, India and Bhutan have committed to further explore avenues for collaboration, not only in fintech, but across the board. that allow us to leverage technology for a better future. But for now, we can congratulate ourselves.

Congratulations to India and Bhutan for taking a new step in their bilateral cooperation!

(Disclaimer: The views of the author do not represent those of WION or ZMCL. WION or ZMCL also do not endorse the views of the author.)

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