The Bank of Bhutan (BoB) with both present and former employees, partners and shareholders gathered together to mark the 50th anniversary of BoB, with the theme ‘Embracing Happiness’, on 28 May.
The event was celebrated in the convention centre in Thimphu, with the Prime Minister Lyonchhen Dasho Tshering Tobgay as the chief guest.
Lyonchhen said, “Exactly 50 years ago in 1968, late His Majesty the Third Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck introduced the first bank in the country, the Bank of Bhutan. Today, the bank plays a very important role in providing financial services to the nation.”
The Chief Executive Officer of BoB said, “From a humble profit of Nu 46,974 in 1969, the bank’s profit last year was more than Nu 700 million. From 20 accounts, the bank now serves more than 300,000 customer accounts. The first commercial loan of Nu 500,000 was advanced to food preservation factory in Samtse. From 7 branches in 1978, the bank now has 48 branches covering every dzongkhag and over 200 banking agencies.”
He added that the Bank of Bhutan will always be relevant to the needs of the people and the nation the bank will continue to remain customer focused.
The Third Druk Gyalpo introduced the first bank in the country and found a partner in Chartered Bank, Calcutta and the first branch was opened in Phuentsholing. The Third King was the first person to open a bank account. 20 bank accounts were opened on the same launch day.
A coin with the face value of Indian 50 paisa, Tikchung, was the currency of Bhutan 50 years ago. To ease the work burden of counting each Tikchung, BoB had to purchase an efficient coin counting machine from an American company.
In 1971, Bank of Bhutan partnered with State Bank of India (SBI) for capital and management. As trade and commerce started developing, so did the Bhutanese currency. Paper currency that was signed by Dasho Yeshey Dorji, the first Bhutanese deputy managing director, was issued in 1974.
To encourage the people to save, an interest of 3 percent was offered and loans were provided to traders and industrialists. On the same day, BoB launched a coffee table book with the theme ‘Bridge to the Future’, and BoB also adopted 50 girl-child.