Although Point of Sale (POS) terminals have been installed in most of the crucial tourist hotspots the supposedly most promising tourist attraction stalls in Thimphu, the Craft bazaar is yet to install the POS terminals.
The Agency for Promotion of Indigenous Crafts (APIC) plans to install terminals in the area with the help of Bank of Bhutan (BoB) but the shopkeepers are more or less reluctant to have any installed.
APIC officials say only four individuals were willing to have the system installed in their stalls, but even the said individuals asked for some more time to think over it.
Some of the stall keepers said the transactions done through hard cash is more convenient. Till now almost every business transactions with either tourists or local buyers are through cash.
The shopkeepers said most of the times they get paid in dollars when dealing with tourists.
Some foreigners have however asked about possibilities to pay through either debit or credit cards.
The installation of POS terminals seems to be convenient to buyers but as of now the sellers at the craft bazaar are more or less skeptical about transactions via POS terminals.
APIC officials said BoB has agreed to charge only about Nu 18,900 each but this still seems to be expensive for the craft bazaar shopkeepers.
A BoB official, said that the telephonic connection/PSTN system is a little cheaper, each costing half the amount of having a telephonic one, that is 9450, but to acquire this telephone connection, it should be connected besides a power supply which could prove expensive.
The craft bazaar development officer at the APIC Pratima Thapa said that the General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) system is more likely to be installed as soon as the vendors decide to acquire it.
BoB officials say the bank had sent its officials in the field to persuade the vendors to acquire it. They say that it can be more profitable for the vendors if these facilities are installed.
Although the APIC officials say that the rate for installing POS terminals might get subsidized for the craft bazaar vendors as compared to other private users specially the handicrafts and other businesses, BoB officials say the rate is all the same for every acquirers since the price they charge for each installation of the machine is equal from where the institution acquires it.
The chairman for the craft bazaar committee Tenzin Dorji said, “There are a number of interested people but they can’t afford since they are all artisans. Even I have applied for an installation for my own business outside a long time back but still I haven’t received any response from the Bank”.
He said the main concern for the vendors in the craft bazaar is not the reluctant attitude of the vendors toward the POS system but it’s the lack of tourists in the area.
According to one of the vendors, the reason could be that the vendors at the craft bazaar are not allowed to pay ‘commission’ to the guides on any item purchased by tourists like other handicrafts businesses.