Bhutanese team shows BLA windows to invest in Bhutan

Representatives of financial institutions (FIs) and the Royal Securities Exchange of Bhutan (RSEB) are currently in Australia to share information and create awareness of the different products that are available for Bhutanese Living Abroad (BLA) to invest in Bhutan.

Speaking to the paper from the Australian Capital, Canberra, chief executive officer (CEO) of RSEB, Dorji Phuntsho said the response from the Bhutanese diaspora in Perth and Brisbane has been very positive.

“There is a perception that we are here to entice Bhutanese to invest in Bhutan. While this would be very good, our main purpose here is to educate Bhutanese here of the products that are available for investment, including the stock exchange,” he said.

Phuntsho added that many Bhutanese are unaware of investments that can be made in Bhutan, which are very safe, reliable, and easily accessible. In some ways, it is kind of a financial literacy that the Bhutanese lack.

“Due to this, some have fallen into investments that are scams, while others are investing in cryptocurrency, without sufficient knowledge of the subject,” he added,

Phuntsho further mentioned that by harnessing the power of e-KYC and collaborating closely with REMIT Bhutan, RSEB has introduced a groundbreaking initiative in partnership with the Bank of Bhutan (BOB) and Bhutan National Bank (BNB).

This initiative brings forth a direct trading facility tailored for Bhutanese Living Abroad (BLA). “In light of the recent enhancements to the mCaMS platform, BLAs now can effortlessly open Central Depository accounts online, eliminating the necessity of engaging brokers in the process. This is the first-of-a-kind facility that is being offered. It is unconventional and I don’t think it is implemented in any other country,” he said.

RSEB has also come up with the WALLET feature, a valuable addition in the mCaMS for BLA, facilitating the seamless loading of funds into one’s wallet directly from the BLA’ investment account using mBoB/mPAY. This functionality streamlines the process of transferring funds for investors and offers the flexibility to withdraw the funds back into your savings account as needed

“No brokers will be involved and we are giving direct access to trade online, with reduced commission rates. Everything is processed online,” he said.

Underlining that technology has to be utilized, RSEB’s CEO said that at a click, BLA can download and install mCaMS, open an investment account with BOB/BNB using REMIT Bhutan, and proceed to open a BLA Account. “Their account will be activated after undergoing a verification process and mBoB and mPAY offer the option to load funds into their mCaMS wallet for share purchases,” he said.

After clicking on the “Open BLA Account to register mCaMS account for Direct Trading facility,” one will receive an email with confirmation that can be used as the credentials to login.

Similarly, T-Bank has apprised BLA of its products beginning from Savings Accounts in Foreign Currency (FCY), Special Education Loans offered, and others. Saving Accounts in USD will be provided interest of 1.75% p.a, while those in AUD will be given 2.75% p.a. BLA Fixed Deposit rate in Nu for 1 year will be 7.50% p.a, which is 0.50% higher than the regular fixed deposit rate.

For students studying in private schools/Colleges/Universities in third Countries, T- Bank will provide a loan not exceeding Nu.3.00 million. The tenure is a maximum of 7 years including 2 years of gestation period.

Housing loans from the Bank will be as per the prevailing lending rate, with 30 years tenure.

Meanwhile, T-Bank has already made inroads in Australia. TPayRemit, an application to remit money exclusively from Australia to Bhutan was launched on August 24th, 2019 in Perth. Apart from the 10% incentive till 31ts December 2023, T-Bank will be providing a discounted remittance fee of AUD 6 till December 31st, 2023.

BNB would offer FCY Savings (AUD), which are exclusively for BLA at 2.75% per annum. This is a .75% increase from existing rates.

Investment Accounts are also designed for BLA to trade in Bhutan’s stock market, with the Bank allowing the loading MCaMS (Stock exchange app) wallet. An interest rate of 5% p.a (50 basis points higher than a regular BTN savings account) will be provided. BLA can create a term deposit account with interest 50 basis points (.5%) higher than regular TDs.

Loan can be availed against the Term Deposit with interest 50 basis points (.5%) lower than regular Loan against TDs. The total interest benefit will be 1.5%

For BTN Term Deposit, the interest rate is 50 basis points (.5%) higher than regular TD, with a minimum tenure of one year. The interest rate will depend on TD term (7.25% to 9.5%) and loans can be availed against this deposit.

For FCY Term Deposit, the Bank is providing a 5% interest rate per annum, and the minimum tenure is one year. The minimum deposit amount required is $100 and savings account is required in the same currency.  There are also loans against BTN Term deposits, with a preferential interest rate of 0.5% above TD rate and the maximum tenure is equal to TD tenure.

Home Loans for construction/purchase/repair of one unit personal dwelling in Bhutan is another product. The maximum is Nu.10 million with a preferential interest rate, which is 0.5% lower than prevailing rates.

The Bhutanese team left for Australia on November 29, 2023, and would be back by December 15, 2023. As of today, the team has covered the cities of Perth and Brisbane and is currently in Canberra.

The paper could not contact representatives from the National Pension and Provident Fund (NPPF) and the BoB who are part of the team.

Sherab Dorji from Thimphu