New Delhi, Nov 20 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with his Bhutanese counterpart Lotay Tshering on Friday launched RuPay card Phase-II that will allow card holders from Bhutan to access the RuPay network in India.
The prime ministers of the two countries had jointly launched Phase-I of the project during Modi's state visit to Bhutan in August last year.
In his speech via video conferencing, Modi spoke about the deep cooperation between the countries in a gamut of fields, including ISRO's preparation to launch Bhutanese satellite into space and BSNL's agreement with Bhutan regarding third international internet gateway.
Modi also asserted that India stands solidly with Bhutan in this difficult hour of the COVID-19 pandemic, and said meeting the neighbouring country's requirements will always be its top priority.
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 card holders to access RuPay network in India, the Ministry of External Affairs had said in a statement.
The RuPay card is an Indian debit and credit card payment network, with acceptance at ATMs, POS devices and e-commerce websites.
'The holders of RuPay cards issued by the Bhutan National Bank will be able to access the facility of more than 1 lakh ATMs and over 20 lakh points of sale terminals in India. I believe that this will help those travelling from Bhutan to India for education, health, pilgrimage or tourism purposes,' Modi said.
There have been 11,000 successful RuPay transactions in Bhutan already and had COVID not happened, this number would've been much higher, he said.
He hailed the deepening of cooperation between the two countries in the space sector.
Noting that India and Bhutan recently signed a framework for Peaceful Usage of Outer Space, Modi said this will help institutions in both countries and improve cooperation.
India has recently opened its space sector for private enterprises and this will promote capacity, innovation and skills, he said.
'I am delighted that work is going on rapidly to send Bhutan's satellite to space next year with the help of ISRO. For this purpose, Bhutan's four space engineers will go to ISRO in December, I extend my best wishes to the four youths,' Modi said.
In his remarks at the event, Tshering said this is a significant milestone to leverage digital technology for advancement of financial inclusion and promote use of low-cost digital payment solutions.
'We're thankful to you and your government for the assurance to make the (COVID-19) vaccine available for Bhutan, once they are ready for clinical use,' he said. Tshering also hailed Modi's leadership in tackling the pandemic in India and expressed confidence that the country will come out much stronger from it.
'The lead that India is taking in developing vaccines is a source of hope for all of us,' he said. PTI ASK KR ZMN