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Urban vs. Rural Perspectives: Dissecting the Divide in Mobile Banking Education

โ€ฆ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’๐’†๐’š ๐’‰๐’‚๐’” ๐’๐’๐’• ๐’—๐’†๐’๐’•๐’–๐’“๐’†๐’… ๐’Š๐’๐’•๐’ ๐’Ž๐’๐’ƒ๐’Š๐’๐’† ๐’ƒ๐’‚๐’๐’Œ๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’…๐’–๐’† ๐’•๐’ ๐’‰๐’†๐’“ ๐’–๐’๐’‡๐’‚๐’Ž๐’Š๐’๐’Š๐’‚๐’“๐’Š๐’•๐’š ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰ ๐’”๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’๐’‚๐’•๐’–๐’“๐’†๐’”, ๐’“๐’†๐’๐’š๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’Š๐’๐’”๐’•๐’†๐’‚๐’… ๐’๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’–๐’Ž๐’ƒ ๐’Š๐’Ž๐’‘๐’“๐’†๐’”๐’”๐’Š๐’๐’๐’”, ๐’˜๐’‰๐’Š๐’„๐’‰ ๐’–๐’๐’‡๐’๐’“๐’•๐’–๐’๐’‚๐’•๐’†๐’๐’š ๐’๐’Š๐’Ž๐’Š๐’•๐’” ๐’‰๐’†๐’“ ๐’‚๐’„๐’„๐’†๐’”๐’” ๐’•๐’ ๐’Ž๐’๐’ƒ๐’Š๐’๐’† ๐’ƒ๐’‚๐’๐’Œ๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’”๐’†๐’“๐’—๐’Š๐’„๐’†๐’”

Tshering Dorji

In an era marked by technological advancements, the landscape of financial services has undergone a remarkable transformation, bringing unprecedented convenience and accessibility to individuals worldwide. From the introduction of ATMs and credit cards to the advent of internet banking and mobile payment solutions, the financial industry is witnessing a paradigm shift.

The latest break throughs in information and communication technologies have further propelled the evolution of financial services, offering solutions like internet banking, mobile banking, e-money, and Point of Sales (POS) systems. These innovations are not only reshaping how people manage their finances but also breaking down traditional barriers that hindered financial access.

Despite the progress, recent data from Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) highlights gender disparities in accessing and utilizing certain financial services. The report also indicates a notable gender gap in the usage of bank branches, mobile banking, and ATMs. While the utilization of bank branches shows a relatively narrow difference between males (72.4%) and females (68.2%), a wider gap emerges in mobile banking (56.0% males, 49.4% females) and ATMs (36.1% males, 25.0% females).

The data further reveals a divide between urban and rural areas, influencing the adoption of financial services. Although rural areas exhibit higher usage of bank branches and extensions (79.5% rural, 55.6% urban), urban areas lead in mobile banking (76.9% urban, 35.9% rural) and ATM usage (40.4% urban, 22.7% rural).

Education emerges as a significant factor in financial service usage. Those with tertiary education demonstrate higher usage of mobile banking (97.2%) and ATM services (50.1%), while individuals with no formal education rely more on bank branches.

The survey also delves into the frequency of usage for various financial service channels. While physical bank visits and ATMs are less frequently used, mobile banking proves to be popular, with 70.2% using it daily. Bank agents, meanwhile, see more frequent usage than ATMs.

Among the banked population using mobile banking and e-money, satisfaction levels are notably high, with an overall satisfaction rate of 88.3%. Attributes such as affordability, speed of transactions, reliability, informativeness, and trustworthiness contribute to this positive feedback.

Sonam, a resident of Trashigang, shared, “I solely rely on my Bhutan Development Bank Limited (BDBL) account, using it to save my agricultural income. However, I haven’t ventured into mobile banking as I lack the knowledge on how to use it, and I don’t feel confident about its security.”

Karma from Shongphu recounted her previous experience with mobile banking, saying, “I used mobile banking in the past, but my grandchildren got hold of my PIN. They used my mobile banking app to recharge their phone numbers, and I only realized when my bank balance dropped significantly. For farmers like us dealing with cash every day, mobile payment services feel insecure, and I promptly deleted the app.”

Thinley from Bumthang explained her banking habits, saying, “I maintain accounts with both BDBL and Bhutan National Bank (BNB) as my children work abroad. I primarily use these accounts for withdrawals. However, I haven’t explored mobile banking due to my unfamiliarity with signatures; I rely on thumb impressions. Unfortunately, this has restricted my access to mobile banking services.”

The findings indicate a consistent pattern in both rural and urban areas, revealing that a larger percentage of rural banked adults (80.4%) attribute their non-utilization of mobile banking and e-money to a lack of operational knowledge, in contrast to urban banked adults (69.1%). When examining the data by gender, although a slightly greater proportion of female banked adults express uncertainty about operating these services compared to their male counterparts, the difference is marginal.

Similarly, a higher percentage of urban banked adults and female banked adults cite “Not required” as their reason for non-utilization in comparison to their rural and male counterparts. These insights underscore the critical need for enhanced information dissemination, education, and training initiatives to bolster the adoption of mobile banking and e-money services, particularly among rural populations. Addressing this knowledge gap is pivotal in advancing financial inclusion across diverse segments of the population.

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