Online technologies in banking and financial sector encouraged

Ravi de Silva, Secretary General, Sri Lanka Banks’ Association; Anil Amarasuriya, Chairman, LankaClear Pvt. Ltd.; Wasantha Deshapriya, Chairman of the Panel of Judges, LankaPay Technnovation Awards; Dharmasiri Kumaratunga, Director, Payments and Setttlements CBSL; and Channa de Silva, GM/CEO, LankaClear.

Sri Lanka annually spends around 1.5% of GDP to print, transport, distribute and maintain currency notes. Therefore the country’s entire financial system should be moved into a techno-based platform, said Dharmasiri Kumaratunga, Director, Payments and Setttlements CBSL, on Wednesday at the LankaClear, annual Technnovation Awards launch.

He said over 60% of transaction, especially in the retail sector, is still done using hard cash and this is now becoming a social issue as well since most of them do not have bank accounts.

“The retail sector including three wheel drivers perform day to day business using ‘only cash’ and most of them do not have bank accounts. Due to this when they try to obtain capital for business expansion they are forced to go to ‘money lenders’ and then get into a financial trap.”

Mr. Kumaratunga, however, said that they now see increases in retail sector moving to the banking sector and this is a welcome move.

LankaClear Chairman, Anil Amarasuriya said though it’s a very costly affair for banks to maintain ATM machines, they still prefer customers using them. “When a customer comes to a bank, the manpower usage is more costly than a customer making a transaction from the teller machine.”

He also said that there are around 65, 000 AMTs in Sri Lanka but sadly in some areas (like Kegalle) there are around 10 ATMs in one town where around 5 could do the job done by the 10 ATM machines.

Sri Lanka also has 23 million bank accounts and some are dormant. “This is more than in USA where only 65% of the population have Bank accounts.”

Channa de Silva, GM/CEO, LankaClear said that their third annual Technnovation Awards will be held on October 7 at Shangri La Hotel and it is Sri Lanka’s first and the only annual payment technology innovation awards.

The Chairman of the Panel of Judges would be Wasantha Deshapriya, Former Secretary to the Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure who has been instrumental to the success of this wards since its inception in 2017.