Bhutan Moves Towards Becoming A Cashless And Digital Society


Bhutan’s Finance Secretary, Nim Dorji said that the launch was an important milestone for the country towards enhancing public financial management.

(Source: Bohat ALA)


By Phub Gyem Kuensel

On 22 July, Bhutan’s Finance  Minister  launched  the  Electronic  Public  Expenditure  Management System  (ePEMS)  and  Global Interchange   for   Financial Transaction  (GIFT)  payment system  to  enhance  public  financial management.

With  ePEMS  and  GIFT in place, transactions  of  public  finances  such  as  salaries,  pensions, benefits, and  allowances no longer have to be manually recorded and processed through cheques.

Functions of ePEMs and GIFT payment systems

e-PEMS will facilitate crediting  payments. To claim payment, the recipients need to have an account with any of the five participating banks.

After the submission of the financial statements,  the  government  will make  the  payments  through e-PEMS,  which  will  be  facilitated by RMA’s GIFT payment system.

It was developed by the Department of Public Accounts, the Finance Ministry in collaboration with the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA), Bank of Bhutan Limited, the Department of Revenue and Customs and the Department of Information Technology and Telecom.


Photo: Ministry of Finance/Bhutan


The GIFT system which was launched by the RMA will serve as a platform to support interbank fund transfer in Bhutan.

This means that it will allow the transfer of money from one bank to any other bank in ‘real-time’ and on a ‘gross’ settlement basis. It can also handle cases where multiple beneficiaries are to be credited from a single account.

Benefits which the ePEMs and GIFT payment systems will bring

The implementation of ePEMs and GIFT payment systems are expected to remove the use of manual cheques, simplify the bank’s reconciliation process, and to improve public service delivery by reducing turnaround time.

Bhutan’s Finance Secretary, Nim Dorji said that the launch was an important milestone for the country towards enhancing public financial management.

He said that more than 30 percent of the GDP was accounted for by public expenditure, making the delivering system more effective and efficient.

In Bhutan, the public financial management system broadly covers budgeting and accounting, revenue and debt management, as well procurement.


Source: Youtube/The Economist

Since Bhutan is preparing to graduate from its Least Developed Countries status, he said that having a strong PFMS in place is critical in providing the culture of fiscal discipline for sensible utilisation of public resources.

Reviews  conducted  to  access the standard and qualities of PEMS in Bhutan in 2010 and 2016  found  that  Bhutan  was doing  well with  its public  financial management.

Bhutan has held high standards of its public financial management

Bhutan became the fifth country in the world to be recognised by the Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) framework for maintaining high standards of public financial management (PFM) system.

The PEFA is a methodology for assessing a country’s public financial management performance while aspiring to reduce transaction costs and harmonising donors’ support, among others.

Bhutan’s RMA’s Governor, Dasho Penjore said that the central bank will take advantage of the digital platform.

Granular data will also be aggregated to see how Bhutan’s government expenditures are flowing into different expenditure heads.

According to Dasho Penjore, the e-PEMS will be able to introduce a policy of rationalising expenditure.

“Because of  a  transparent  record  of  the expenditure,  the  government can  rationalise  and  know the economy of the country - either add or minus the expenditure,” he added.

The GIFT will facilitate the Government to Citizens (G2C) Payments; Government to Businesses (G2B) Payments; Government to Employee (G2E) Payments; and Government to Government (G2G) Payments. This ‘momentum’ will improve transparency, accountability, decrease costs and reduce leakage.


Rankings are out of 10, calculated based on six different metrics: number of credit cards per person, number of debit cards per person, cards in issue with contactless functionality, growth of cashless payments over five years, payment transactions made using non-cash methods and awareness of the different mobile payment options available.

Graphic: Worldpay


The electronic systems are also expected to promote cashless and digital payments in the country, minimise the risks of fraud, corruption, and rent-seeking besides improving reporting and consolidation of government accounts, public service delivery and reducing administrative burden.

Help from various entities to set up ePEMs and GIFT payment systems in Bhutan

The  GIFT  system  was  developed  with  the  guidance  of the Reserve  Bank  of  India  with technical support from the Indian Financial  Technology  and  Allied Services (IFTAS). While ePEMs was developed with financial and technical support under the multi-donor fund.

The multi-donor fund was established under the supervision of the World Bank. The European Union also contributed USD 3 million while the Austrian Development Cooperation provided USD 1 million.

A grant agreement was also signed on 21 September 2017 to help Bhutan manage its public funds more effectively and to improve the procurement and budgetary systems.


This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.


Related Posts

Positive Impact of Fintech on Bhutan

“Fintech is a disruption to be embraced,” this view was echoed by the digital pioneer Taizo Son.

Apr 26, 2018 00:36

Chharo App to Facilitate Cashless Transactions

Chharo is the first e-wallet to be introduced in the country. It is an e-wallet application available for free download...

Feb 19, 2018 14:45

Oie – Online Taxi Booking App Connects Drivers with Passengers

Oie, an online taxi booking and dispatching mobile app, which is expected to cut the waiting time for both drivers and...

May 01, 2018 03:32

Bamtech – An Innovative App Launched In Bhutan To Inform Users...

The application features essential information regarding the usage of bamboo for housing, construction, the making of...

Aug 24, 2018 14:23

Bank At Your Doorstep – Bank Of Bhutan Introduces ‘Banking On...

Bank of Bhutan (BoB) introduced ‘banking on wheels’ on 3 Oct 2018. It travels to various areas in Thimphu on a fixed...

Oct 09, 2018 17:36

Suhas Gopinath - World’s Youngest CEO Gave An Inspiring Talk On...

“Technology is a means of survival in the competitive modern world with modern problems,” said Suhas Gopinath.

Jul 22, 2019 23:58



The Test of Loyalty & Commitment Among Bhutanese Employers in Tourism Industry

Amid the crisis we recognized few Bhutanese Tour Operators with generous and compassion souls because COVID-19 will have far-reaching...

Apr 03, 2020 14:33

Daughter Of U.S Covid-19 Patient Thanked Bhutan For Its Great Care And Prayers

The 76 year old American tourist left Bhutan for the US on March 13 for further medical treatment.

Mar 16, 2020 23:28


Digital Content Creators and Its Relevance

Everything under the sun, you name it, can be discussed! And therefore, the relevance of BLOGGING in our everyday lives!

Apr 01, 2020 01:22

Gangkhar Puensum – World’s Highest Mountain Forbidden To Climbers

The Bhutanese also believe that the Gangkhar Puensum is home to the mythical Yeti and other legendary creatures.

Mar 23, 2020 23:28


Karma – Female Archer From Bhutan Qualified For Tokyo 2020 Olympic Quota

Karma has been specialising in Olympics-style archery since 2009.

Nov 30, 2019 13:18

Bhutan’s Pelden Wangchuk Wins 10th Edition Of Tour 0f Dragon Mountain Bike Race

This year, the race also saw the highest number of female participants compared to past years.

Sep 10, 2019 01:08


Celebrating Bhutan’s Entrepreneurs: Namkhar Gyaltshen Of Transcend Artisan

This story is part of an exclusive feature by Yeewong Magazine in Dec 2018 on celebrating entrepreneurship in Bhutan.

Mar 06, 2020 11:48

Centre Of Excellence For Software Engineering Launched By Bhutan’s Thimphu Techpark

The purpose of establishing this centre is to fulfil His Majesty the King’s vision of using technology to solve problems.

Feb 24, 2020 23:58


Bumthang The Switzerland of Bhutan Beyond Itineraries

Bumthang in Bhutan is the most historic dzongkhag if we consider the number of ancient temples and sacred sites. Being a combination of four...

Mar 28, 2020 11:59

Thimphu Urbanites Hits The Hiking Trail Than Ever Before.

One of the best and easy walk around Thimphu is the three-to four-hours round trip from Dochu La to Lungchuzekha Goemba. It affords...

Mar 26, 2020 11:40


Food on Wheels- First of its kind in Bhutan

The World's Largest Fast Food Restaurant Chains doesn't exist in Bhutan.

Mar 04, 2020 09:39

Amazing Stories from the Eastern Part of Bhutan

You can't say you have visited the eastern part of Bhutan unless you have experienced the following bizarre things.

Mar 02, 2020 19:02

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!

Download Daily Bhutan Mobile App

Connecting with us just got easier!