With the launch of Bank of Bhutan Limited (BoBL) VISA credit cards on earlier this week, the bank has just marked the evolution of card services in Bhutan.
The product comes in three different offerings of BoBL VISA Gold International, BOBL VISA Gold Domestic and BOBL VISA Silver Domestic Credit Cards.
The Prime Minister, Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley, Chief Guest at the launch on the 20August launch became the first BoBL VISA Gold International card holder along with Druk Holdings and Investments (DHI) chairman, Lyonpo Om Pradhan.
The cards will benefit a diverse population of clients starting from travel agencies, tourists, importers, Government and Non-Governmental Organizations and travelers to the general public.
BoBL VISA Gold International cards are valid outside Bhutan, India and Nepal with a maximum limit of USD 3,000 as per maximum Annual Travel Scheme (ATS) limit set by the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA). The Card offers conveniences of shopping online and through Point of Sale (POS).
The Domestic gold credit card is valid in Bhutan, India and Nepal with maximum limit of Nu/INR 150,000.00. The card offers convenience of shopping through POS in Bhutan, India and Nepal.
The Domestic Silver credit cards are valid in Bhutan, India and Nepal with a maximum limit of Nu/INR 60,000.00. The product offers similar benefits like BoBL VISA Domestic Gold Credit Card.
A monthly interest rate of 2.5% is applicable for all the three kinds of credit cards. Interest rates are applicable on any outstanding amount by the client on his/her card after a period of one month from the date of transactions.
VISA and MasterCard’s organizations both issue credit cards through member banks and set and maintain the rules for processing. They are both run by board members who are mostly high-level executives from their member banking organizations.
BoBL CEO Passang Tshering in his speech at the launch thanked VISA and MasterCard for guiding through the membership application process culminating in BoBL being awarded primary membership of both VISA and MasterCard.
Through this membership BoBL can sponsor any bank to be its associate member. For instance T-Bank could affiliate with BoBL to issue T-Bank credit cards without a MasterCard membership.
Chairman of BoBL Karma W. Penjor said the issue of VISA Credit Card is the final phase in introduction of cards as a mode of handling transactions in line with the executive order from the Prime Minister.
Interoperability of PoS terminals was the second phase of the overall Bhutan Financial Switch project. During the first phase, the central bank (RMA) has connected all ATMs wherein customers can visit the nearest ATM machine for transactions.
As of mid-August, 2012 the BOBL has issued 447 VISA Debit International cards, 16039 VISA Debit Domestic cards and 180 Point of Sale (POS) terminals.
BoBL’s card officer Tashi Yoezer said the bank also has infrastructure in place to monitor clients’ credit details such as credit history and credit ratings.
Currently the largest bank in Bhutan, BoBL was established in 1968 through a Royal Charter. The bank has a network of 27 branches and five extension counters across the country. DHI owns 80% of the bank while the State Bank of India (SBI) owns the remaining 20%.
Over the last 44 years, the bank has successfully gained market share in its target customer franchise while maintaining healthy profitability and asset quality.
If all the BoBL customers apply for credit cards, there will be some 0.3mn people who use credit cards in the country.