Obtaining rural credit is expected to be a lot easier with the Bhutan Development Finance Corporation (BDFC) launching what it calls a mobile banking system for its clients in rural Bhutan.Under the plan, announced at the annual conference of credit officers organised by the financial institution in Thimphu early this week, basic banking services will be made available to the people in their villages and geogs.
The BDFCs managing director, Karma Rangdol, explained that dzongkhag credit officials will visit villages and geogs every month at a predetermined date for banking activities like loan disbursement, deposits and withdrawals of savings, collections of repayments, client counseling and new client identification.
Loans up to Nu 5,000 will be disbursed by the geog loan committee chaired by the gup while amount exceeding Nu 5000 and below Nu 30,000 will be approved by the branch loan committee.
We are trying to decentralize our operation to the geog level keeping in line with the decentralization programmes initiated by the royal government, Karma Rangdol said.
The convenience of the new banking system has led to the identification of an increased number of target geogs, said BDFCs executive director Nawang Gyetse. The mobile banking service is soon expected to cover 29 geogs in the western region, 20 geogs in the eastern region and about 15 geogs in the central region. But to begin with, the BDFC will restrict the service to 50 geogs.
According to micro credit specialist Mrs. Alie Vanderwar, the service-oriented and client-friendly bank will not only provide effective services to its clients but reduce the cost of transactions between the BDFC and its clients.
Trashigangs credit officer, Pema Tashi, felt that mobile banking was indispensable where there were no financial institutes while Tenzin Tashi, the Haa credit officer, said that the bank would provide easy and convenient credit accessibility to the farmers. A little bit of awareness on banking system is all farmers need and their interest is expected, Tenzin Tashi said.
While farmers do not have to travel for days to the headquarters for a small loan, the new scheme will cut cost and build greater relations between the bank and its clients, said Karma Rangdol.
The mobile bank will cover about 100 geogs by the end of 2002.
By Ugyen Penjore