In line with the national goal to encourage a cashless economy and promoting financial inclusion, the Bank of Bhutan launched mobile e-wallet “Chharo” on February 9 in Thimphu.
Chharo is the first e-wallet to be introduced in the Kingdom. It is an e-wallet application available for free download on both Android and IOS platform allowing anyone including tourists and visitors with a smart phone to make secure digital payments across devices and channels.
The Chharo application will also provide a marketplace model bringing business merchants and buyers on a single platform and advance e-commerce in the Kingdom. Chharo can be downloaded and used immediately after completing a simple registration process based on the registered mobile number of the user. The main difference between a mobile banking application (like mBoB) and an e-wallet application (like Chharo) is that a mobile banking application is linked to a bank account while an e-wallet is not.
“Chharo is interfaced with the RMA’s Bhutan Immediate Payment Services (BIPS) gateway making it interoperable between all banks in the Kingdom,” a BOB official said. “This is a unique feature of Chharo not usually found in e-wallet apps in other countries. This feature enables a user to load money into Chharo from any bank in Bhutan while tourists can load the wallet using their debit or credit cards. A feature to transfer money to any bank account from Chharo is also being developed and will be available soon.”
Pema N Nadik, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BOB said the Chharo launch is significant. “As the name suggests, Chharo is intended to be a friend to everyone. That is the reason that we have intentionally kept it brand agnostic so that it is not identified as a service of any particular bank but of the banking sector of Bhutan,” he said. “Most importantly, the Chharo app aims to promote financial inclusion in the country and provide a convenient platform for financial services for the unbanked population thereby bringing them into the financial ecosystem.”
Established in 1968 through a Royal Charter, BOB is the oldest and largest bank in the Kingdom with a presence in all the dzongkhags through a network of 31 branches and 16 extension offices. The Bank has the largest network of 82 ATMs throughout the country. BoB is the only bank in the Kingdom with primary membership of Visa and MasterCard and is the only bank issuing Visa branded Credit Cards for corporate and individuals.
The bank last year launched Agency Banking services BoB Connect in an initiative to take financial services to every corner of the country and as of now started about 300 registered agents across the country. The bank also launched mBoB Scan & Pay and loan application system online in 2017.