Bank of Bhutan (BoB) has started charging Nu 10 for its mobile banking service, M-BoB. This has not gone down well with many of the M-BoB users, with many taking to the social media to voice their frustration.
M-BoB was launched in May 2015, based on a sustainability model from revenues through various service charges, such as per transaction fee, etc., mentioned clearly during the launch.
An official from BoB said that apart from showcasing the pricing for M-BoB services during the launch, they also did advertisement the pricing list in print media, all mainstream media and the bank’s social media page.
“M-BoB is an initiative by the Bank of Bhutan to try and integrate and ease payment services in the country. To introduce the service, the bank has made substantial investments as well as incurring annual recurring costs for annual maintenance charge, connectivity, etc.,” the official said.
According to BoB, due to the analysis on usage trend over the past year, BoB made a very conscious decision to provide all M-BoB services free but for a minimal monthly fee of Nu 10.
BoB had planned to introduce the charges in August 2015, but delayed it as they had to stabilize the service and improve its performance. Later on, the charges were introduced from June 2016 since the performance target was achieved.
The nominal maintenance fee of Nu 10 per month is applied to defray some of the recurring costs. “The revenue line from M-BoB was included in the budget for 2016, which was prepared last November and is not a recent decision,” the official added.
He also said, “The M-BoB application was particularly developed for BoB and it is not an off-the-shelf application configured for BoB.”
M-BoB application, which requires internet connectivity, is integrated to the core banking system of the bank, which provides real time transaction capability. Users also have an option to use the USSD facility by dialing *262# which does not require internet connectivity but is also real-time.
Transaction analysis of M-BoB show that most users use the service for non-banking transactions, which has not resulted in any significant reduction in branch transactions.
According to BoB, M-BoB is a value-added service available 24/7, provided for the convenience of the clients and with a range of other services, like internet banking, SMS alerts etc., free of cost.
“We hope that our valued clients understand and support us by continuing to use M-BoB and enjoy its convenience. BoB will continue to improve the M-BoB services as well as introduce new and innovative services,” the official added.
However, people are skeptical about the service and they want to know why they are being charged Nu 10 per month despite paying for the downloading the apps charge and slow service. A private employee said, “I have started using the M-BoB service as encouraged by my friends, and upon using I came across many issues where the service is low and sometime it’s frustrating.”
He also said that though he has M-BoB, still then, he has to go to the bank, in person, to do any transaction as M-BoB service is not reliable most of the time. “So I think charging Nu 10 per month with such issue is not fair,” he added.
While some M-BoB users find the fee amount less than a parking fee, if one had to drive and park, to pay utility bills. However, a government employee, Dema, said that people may think that Nu 10 per month is a small amount, but if the total number of M-BoB users is considered, it is a huge amount in a month, which, she said, is an indirect way of using public’s money.
“I am not saying I won’t pay the charges, but BoB should make sure that the services provided should be up to the mark. They simply cannot charge with their own reason when the service itself is poor,” she added.
A businessman, Sangay, said it feels as though he is being imposed with a tax for using BoB services. He said one day BoB might introduce charges on their whole banking services. “I am against the fee, and I have already deactivated the service because I don’t think it’s worth paying as the service is low most of the time,” he said.
He also said that BoB should give excellent services if they are to impose fees. “It is same like using a product with low quality and no one would like that. So better if they re-look into the matter and come up with improved facilities,” he said.