Phase I of the project had enabled Indian RuPay cardholders to access ATMs and point-of-sale terminals in Bhutan

Taking ahead the decade-old relationship between India and Bhutan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bhutanese counterpart Lotay Tshering in a virtual event on Friday jointly launched RuPay Card Phase II that will allow Bhutanese cardholders to access the RuPay network in India.

Launching the card, PM Modi said that RuPay cards issued by the Bhutan National Bank can be used at ATMs for Rs 1 lakh and Rs 20 lakh at point-of-sale (POS) terminals.

“This would make tourism, shopping, and other transactions easier for Bhutanese tourists in India,” the Prime Minister said.

The RuPay card is an Indian debit and credit card payment network, with acceptance at ATMs, POS devices, and e-commerce websites. It also offers discounts and deals on the use of debit, credit, and prepaid cards.

Phase I of the RuPay card was launched by the two leaders during PM Modi’s state visit to Bhutan in August of the last year.

The implementation of Phase-I of RuPay cards in Bhutan has enabled visitors from India to access ATMs and Point of Sale (PoS) terminals across Bhutan. Phase-II will now allow Bhutanese cardholders to access the RuPay network in India, the Ministry of External Affairs had said in a statement.

Speaking about the successful RuPay transactions, the Prime Minister said, “I’m happy to know that there have been 11,000 successful Rupay transactions in Bhutan already. Had Covid not happened, this number would have been much higher. We are launching the Phase II of the RuPay Card scheme,” he added.

Further, PM Modi spoke about the deep cooperation between the countries in a gamut of fields, including ISRO's preparation to launch Bhutanese satellites into space and BSNL's agreement with Bhutan regarding the third international internet gateway.

Recently, India and Bhutan signed a framework for the Peaceful Usage of Outer Space. Speaking about the same, PM Modi said, “This will help institutions in both countries and improve cooperation. India has recently opened its space sector for private enterprises. This will promote capacity, innovation, and skills.”

Carrying forward India’s Neighborhood First Policy, India stood with Bhutan during the tough times of the Covid-19 pandemic. During his address, PM Modi asserted that India will give utmost priority to the requirements of India’s neighboring countries.

Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering thanked PM Modi for India’s leadership in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. “We’re thankful to you and your government for the assurance to make the vaccine available for Bhutan, once it is ready for clinical use,” he said.

“The Excellency’s (PM Modi) leadership in tackling the pandemic at home is highly commended. I am sure India will come out much stronger from the pandemic. The lead that India is taking in developing vaccines is a source of hope for all of us,” Lotay Tshering added.