Nu 122bn worth of transactions through mobile and internet banking

Mobile banking dominates domestic payment

Mobile banking constitutes majority of the domestic payment shares by 53.69% in terms of volume followed by Bhutan QR code with 39.97%.ย  Similarly, the overall domestic payments recorded an increase of 10.86% and 7.79% in terms of volume and value respectively.

Amongst the various domestic payments, mobile banking made the highest transaction with Nu 133.14 billion (B), followed by cheque with Nu 41.46B, Nu 24.77B by QR payments, and Nu 24.39B by Bhutan Interbank Real-time Fund Transfer System (BIRT).

The value of mobile banking transactions has shown consistent growth over the four quarters in 2023 where the value has more than doubled, experiencing an increase of about 101.65% from Nu 52.29B in the fourth quarter of 2020 to Nu 105.44B in the same period of 2021.

The growth rate is mainly attributed to an increase of approximately 13.43%, from Nu 105.44B to Nu 119.60B in the fourth quarter of 2022 where the value continued to rise with an additional 11.31% increase to Nu 133.14B in the fourth quarter of 2023.

32,992 new users subscribed to the mobile banking apps of the six FIs in 2023, increasing the active users to 575,398 and indicating growth and popularity of different mobile banking platforms in terms of both new user registrations and active user engagement during the quarter.

The volume of transactions for mobile banking decreased slightly in the fourth quarter 2023, the value of transactions increased, meaning a shift towards higher-value transactions by customers, according to the central bank.

For instance, the volume of mobile banking transactions has been consistently increasing from the fourth quarter of 2020 to the fourth quarter of 2022, with a slight decrease in the fourth quarter of 2023 by 3.14% compared to the same quarter of the previous year.

The growth in the volume continued though at a slower rate in the fourth quarter of 2022 with an increase of mobile banking volume at 13.89% from Nu 33.02 million (M) to Nu 37.60M. However in the last quarter of 2023, there was a small decline in the transaction volume of mobile banking of about 3.14%, from Nu 37.60M to Nu 36.42M.

The volume of cheque transactions showed some fluctuation while the value has demonstrated a more consistent upward trend indicating larger individual transaction amounts.

In the last quarter of 2023, there was a decrease of around 14.64% in cheque transaction value from Nu 48.57B to Nu 41.46B with a total of 243 cheques being bounced, out of which five cheques were charged to the customers for their insufficient balance, while nine cheques were charged to the banks for their failure to do due diligence. However, the cheque transaction made the highest transaction after mobile banking.

Similarly, the QR code payment transactions continued its growth in volume, experiencing an increase of around 36.28% to Nu 27.11M during the last quarter of 2023, while the transaction value also increased significantly with an increase of 34.59% to Nu 24.77B.

In terms of QR merchant registration, Thimphu dzongkhag recorded the highest registration with 601, a decrease by 85.49% in the last quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2022. It was followed by Samtse dzongkhag with 206 merchant registrations, a decrease of 47.29%. The least merchant registration was in Gasa dzongkhag with 11 registrations.

The transaction of BIRT in the last quarter stood at Nu 24.39B with a decrease of 16.05% in transaction volume, from 72.89 thousand to 61.19 thousand compared to the fourth quarter of 2022. There was a modest increase of 7.06% in BIRT transaction value from Nu 22.78B to Nu 24.39B.

Regarding internet banking, both transaction volume and value have experienced significant growth during the third quarter of 2023. The increase was mainly attributed to a substantial increase in the adoption and usage of internet banking services. There was a remarkable surge in transaction volume experiencing an increase of around 131.76 to 21.48 thousand, amounting to Nu 1.41B. There were 758 new subscriptions during the same quarter, taking the internet banking total users to 31,950.

Similarly, the transaction in the wallet continued to grow its volume, experiencing an increase of around 32.17%, from 2,049.76 thousand to 2,709.15 thousand with a total amount of Nu 767.57M.ย  In terms of volume and value, goBoB dominates the e-wallet market, accounting for 78.73% and 58.29% respectively.

For the cards and Automated Teller Machines (ATM), both volume and value recorded a consistent downward trend, suggesting an adoption of alternative payment methods like mobile and internet banking. During the last quarter, cards and ATMs made 558.80 thousand transactions amounting to Nu 2.96B.

As of the domestic payment gateway, there was a further increase of 0.67% in transaction volume to 839.26 thousand during the fourth quarter of 2023 amounting to Nu 1.67B.ย  The increase was mainly attributed to a remarkable surge in transaction value.

Among the six different categories of payment gateway merchants, entertainment has recorded the highest transaction volume consisting of 52.93% of total transaction volume, followed by corporate services with 27.20%.

According to the Royal Monetary Authorityโ€™s (RMA) fourth quarterly payment system report, there are 102 registered merchants in the domestic payment gateway portal as of December 2023, of which 45 merchants are blocked, 3 in testing phase and 54 are active.

Sherab Dorji from Thimphu