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India, Bhutan partner to launch cross-border QR code payment scheme

India — The National Payment Corporation of India in collaboration with the Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan has launched the third phase of the cross-border interoperable QR code payment linkage project between Bhutan and India.

The project is in continuation to the launch of RuPay, an Indian multinational financial services and payment system, in 2019 whose proponents include the Honorable Prime Minister of India, His Excellency Shri Narendra Modi, and the Honorable Prime Minister of Bhutan, His Excellency Dr Lotay Tshering.

Initiated on 20 March 2021, the project was formally launched by Her Excellency Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, the Honorable Finance Minister of India, and His Excellency Namgay Tshering, the Honorable Finance Minister of Bhutan on 13th July 2021. This linkage marks another milestone between the two countries relationship as they venture into digital payment space, deepen their financial ties, and create convenience through the provisioning of payment infrastructure between the citizens of India and Bhutan. 

With the linkage, Indian citizens will henceforth be able to make instant and secure QR code payments using their smart mobile phones at any retail and major service provider outlets in Bhutan, thereby making payments much more accessible. A total of 182 banks in India provide QR code payment services through their respective mobile applications, accounting for up to 170.76 million users on Android and 3.61 million users on iOS.

The general acceptability of Bhutan QR code payments, as a safe alternative to cash or other means of payments, have surged during the Covid-19 pandemic, with QR code payments increasing 300 percent since July 2020 and QR code adoption has risen over 90 percent. A total of 23,792 merchants in Bhutan accept QR code payments and 356,157 users have registered for QR code payments, indicative of peoples’ growing preference for cashless transactions. The benefits of the QR code payment thus far have been numerous, including that of consumer convenience and reductions of costs for both customers and banks.

Through the collaborative effort by the two countries of harnessing financial technologies, the project is expected to ease the quality of regional and international payments of citizens through a safe and secure cross-border QR payment system.