People’s Bank celebrates its 60th anniversary

(L-R): Sujeewa Rajapakse, Chairman of the People’s Bank and Ranjith Kodituwakku, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager of the People’s Bank.

People’s Bank celebrated its 60th anniversary on July 1, 2021 marking a period during which it revolutionized the Sri Lankan banking industry by taking innovative banking to touch the lives of even the most grass root level customers who had been largely overlooked by the industry.

During the past 60 years, the bank has always strived to understand its customers’ needs and was able to use new technology and innovative products to meet those needs. It is this approach that has won them Sri Lanka’s largest customer base of over 14 million.

People’s Bank was established under Act No. 29 of 1961 with the aim of uplifting the corporate business and rural banking systems. This Act was submitted to Parliament by then Minister of Trade, Food, Co-operatives and Shipping, T. B. Illangaratne, during the regime of Prime Minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike. Vincent Subasinghe was the first Chairman of People’s Bank. He was a pioneer in providing banking services to the corporate sector.

In an era when banking services were limited to English speaking upper end of the society, it was the establishment of People’s Bank that changed that phenomenon by starting to work in Sinhala and Tamil.

Right from the inception, the bank started working towards its mission to serve the masses. Accordingly, People’s Bank has introduced many firsts to the country such as agriculture loans, Pawning, SME loans, Women’s Savings Accounts and Children’s Savings Accounts. Most of these product concepts were so widely embraced by the society that almost all the local commercial banks are now offering them under different brand names.

Currently, People’s Bank is one of Sri Lanka’s largest financial institutions, boasting over Rs. 2.3 trillion in assets. Its network of 741 branches/service centres is the country’s largest. The bank also possesses a network of over 250 Self Banking Units operating 24/7 all 365 days of the year. This enormous network enables the people to get their banking done safely, securely and with ease of accessibility.

Speaking at a 60th anniversary celebratory event, the Chairman of the People’s Bank, Sujeewa Rajapakse stated, “Marking a turning point in the Sri Lanka banking sector, People’s Bank was established on 1st July 1961. Today, we celebrate the 60th anniversary with much pride. As a reputed state bank, People’s Bank not only provides state-of-the-art financial facilities but also renders their services to uplift the social economy. As a state bank, People’s Bank’s objectives transcend beyond mere profits and the main focus has always been the country’s development. Hence many a time we have provided financial facilities for exports, education, health, expressways and tourism infrastructure”.

He also stated, “People’s Bank has always come forward to shoulder the societal responsibilities and even the current COVID-19 pandemic is no different. We are very much a part of this nation and this is why the country in turn considers us as the pride of the nation”.

Ranjith Kodituwakku, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager, People’s Bank also commented, “From the inception, People’s Bank was open to the common man instead of just one strata of the society. Although the bank was catering the mass market, that did not prevent it from being innovative and technology oriented. This is why People’s Bank expanded rapidly in terms of network, financial performance, product portfolio and brand value”.

“Furthermore, People’s Bank has greatly supported the country’s socio-economic development. People’s Bank continues to introduce new banking technology to the financial sector and to its customers in order to establisher stronger relationships with them. We look to pioneer modern banking solutions in the future as well,” he also said.

While the bank initially focused on rural sectors and cooperative movements, since then the bank has evolved and is currently offering a range of products to support their customer’s standards of living. The loan schemes on offer include, Personal Loans, Housing Loans, Professional Loans, Educational Loans and Vehicle Loans. Furthermore, People’s Bank from time to time has introduced special loans schemes to assist farming and fishing communities especially to revive the country’s economy after challenging times.

Adapting to the modern world, the People’s Bank launched a digital banking project in 2015, to ensure that their customers could transact easily, safely and efficiently. People’s Bank was the first bank in the island that took steps to undertake a comprehensive digital transformation project covering major part of its operations. As a result People’s Bank now provides a world class digital banking experience to all its customers.

For example, People’s Bank has enabled customers to open an account paperless in a short time as 10 minutes. As another key component of the digitization journey, People’s Bank introduced People’s Wave mobile banking App for customers to transact any time of the day using their mobile phone without having to go to a bank branch and this has become the most downloaded app in Sri Lanka. Also, People’s Wiz Loan Originating System has enabled the bank to grant personal loans within 24-hours.

In addition, a mobile app was specially introduced to institutional customers called People’s Wyn. Online banking facilities targeting both retail and corporate customers were introduced in 2018.

In recognition of the unparallel contribution made by the People’s Bank towards betterment of the country, banking industry and customers, it has been recognized with many awards both locally and internationally over last several years.

Recently the Bank won multiple awards from leading institutes such as The Asian Banker magazine (Sri Lanka’s Best Retail Bank & Sri Lanka’s Best Digital Bank in 2021) and Asia Money magazine (Best Domestic Bank and Best Digital Bank in Sri Lanka in 2020).

Additionally, The Banker Magazine named People’s Bank as one of the top 1000 banks. Locally, People’s Bank has won ‘Banking Services Provider of the Year’ award at SLIM Nielson awards for 15 consecutive years.