recently reported that over 70% of the country’s
population has no direct access to the mainstream
banking structure. Economists and professional bankers
are of the view that there is an urgent need to address
over half of the population, mostly rural masses
deprived of a basic need like banking how does one find
the right method to reach them? How does one make
banking hassle free for the ordinary man who is fighting
against time to get about his or her day to day work?
How does one bring the bank to the customer?
Thilaksha Kodithuwakku, a brand manager employed at
reputed bank in Sri Lanka says that many have
experimented with the idea of finding a viable method to
reach the general public through technology, however for
most parts it has proven unsuccessful as the correct
platform hasn’t been used to connect the consumer and
“People want to save money and carry out transactions
through banks. In rural areas the access to financial
services is costly and very limited due to the
unavailability of bank branches and lack of proper
transportation. Hence people tend to save money in tills
etc. and carry out transactions without maintaining bank
accounts, which negatively impacts the country’s economy
since most of these transactions are not routed through
the formal banking system of the country, “points out
Technology and telecommunication are developing rapidly;
it is these two tools that will play a major role in
making banking more convenient to the general public.
Using these we should look at innovative ways of getting
people to have bank accounts or do transactions through
banks,” he said. It is this idea that pushed
Kodithuwakku to come up with “branchless banking,” a
concept he devised to bring banking to the customers’
does the branchless banking concept work?
concept is simple and hassle free. It was formulated by
taking mobile phone technology to another dimension.
With the use of IVR (Interactive Voice Response) and
then the gradual use of SMS we can make banking,
convenient and most importantly mobile. I came up this
concept after careful analysis and research and mainly
based it on the phone reload system which most people
are familiar with. Once we incorporate the correct
technology which supports the banking system to the
mobile and land phone, the customer can carry out a
transaction as and when he pleases.”
branchless banking concept has three important
contributors; the bank, merchant and the customer. For
example if the customer wants to credit or debit money
to the bank he can visit the nearest merchant (who is
authorised to initiate banking transactions) and get the
requirement done without visiting a bank branch.
Subsequently the customer gets a confirmation message
through a voice call and a SMS confirming that the
transaction has been completed.
can be done with Branchless Banking?
deposits to your accounts • Fund deposits to children’s
accounts • Fund deposits for other Accounts • Fund
transfers • Withdrawals • Microfinance operations
(Repayment of loans/Pawning/ delivering of small loans)
• Payment for utility bills • Credit card payments •
Payments for goods and services etc.
transactions can be made through this innovative system
which is secure, convenient, easy, hassle free, time
saving and cost effective. This Branchless Banking model
also allows banks to draw in a spectrum of people who
are unfamiliar with the financial system via mobile
phones/land phones and it is capable of converting the
retail merchants to mini banking branches where people
could initiate their basic transactions easily,”
branchless banking concept is mainly targeted at the
rural masses who have almost no or very limited access
to banking and urban executives whose lives are a race
Kodithuwakku says branchless banking is flexible, thus
it can connect all telecom service providers and banks
in one network which makes it accessible from anywhere
in the island with inter bank operatability, a plus
point for customers.
unique feature of this system is that the customer need
not register with any of the telephone service
providers. The service can be made available through any
of the existing telecom service providers (mobile /fixed
concept has been well received by many which include
former banking professionals and school students who
were given demonstrations on how this branchless banking
concept works. Most were of the view that it is new age
banking, a long felt need in uplifting the country’s
banking sector, Kodithuwakku said.
noted that this concept could promote the culture of
savings and create a conducive atmosphere for people to
transact with responsible and regulated institutions
which will boost the economy by generating revenue for
Kodithuwakku further mentioned that this 100% Sri Lankan
product could be expanded to other developing countries
such as Indonesia, Nepal, Vietnam, Maldives etc.
Kodithuwakku hopes to take the Branchless Banking
concept to the masses and develop their financial
concept can be implemented in any area of the country
and the government can invest in this project where the
infrastructure facilities are limited including areas
that have been recently liberated from the LTTE. This
could spur fast paced development in these areas,” said
Pan Asia Bank posts impressive first quarter
Asia Bank has posted an impressive 42% growth in profit
before taxes and VAT for the first quarter ended March
31, 2009 when compared to the same period last year. The
bank has recorded a profit before tax of Rs. 205 mn and
profit after tax of Rs. 92 mn, a growth of 39%.
in income, both nett interest income and other income
and sustainable cost control measures have contributed
to the impressive bottom line. Results would have been
even better if not for increased provision mainly on
account of the bank’s credit card portfolio, which
resulted in an increase NPA Ratio to 12.74% as at March
2009, for which the management has taken steps including
introducing more controls, segregation of duties,
automation, strengthening the recovery unit etc. a press
Asia Bank grew its customer deposits by 15% and advances
by 18% when compared with the quarter ended March 31,
’08. Kalutara was added to its growing branch network of
33. The bank’s plan during the year is to add three to
five new branches to the network and look to re locate
several existing branches to upgrade the facilities and,
to provide a more modern, customised and professional
Liquidity which is considered a paramount requirement
for banks and capital adequacy ratios remain comfortably
above minimum Central Bank liquidity ratios and Basel
requirements. Liquidity Ratio was at 22.03% against a
requirement of 20%, Tier I and Tier II Capital Ratio
stood at 12.83% and 13.58% respectively against required
ratios of 5% and 10%. Advances to Deposit Ratio (ADR),
which the Pan Asia Bank monitors internally remains
within the target level of 85%.
Pan Asia Bank, Kimarli Fernando said “Hard decisions
taken and changes made during the second half of last
year are showing results as the figures reveal. Profits
have grown, efficiencies have improved and better
controls are in place. It is an ongoing continuous
improvement process. We expect the growth momentum to
continue despite the uncertain and difficult business
environment due to the global economic downturn, and
expect to achieve sound results by year end. The
expected peace in the north and east will also give us
new opportunities for which we are gearing up. ”
Seylan teams ‘most knowledgeable’
Emphasizing the high calibre of knowledge and talent
prevalent within Seylan Bank, teams participating at the
Interbank Quiz 2009 and Trade Finance Quiz 2009
triumphed once again this year, a feat accomplished
consecutively in the past as well.
Interbank Quiz 2009 organised by the Association of
Chartered Bankers of Sri Lanka Trust is the premier
annual quiz competition for Sri Lanka’s banking industry
and had the participation of 34 teams this year battling
on questions pertaining to banking law, trade finance,
general knowledge and current affairs.
entered two teams, ‘A’ Team taking the trophy and ‘B’
Team being second runner-up. The Seylan Team also
emerged champions for the second consecutive year at the
Trade Finance Quiz 2009, organised by the Trade Finance
Association of Bankers.
continuing winning streak displayed in 2009 comes from
last year’s triumph of securing Best Team in the
Corporate Sector at the Wisdom 2008 Quiz under the aegis
of the Management Club and Overall Champions in the
Future Waves Brain Teaser 2008 in addition to winning
the Trade Finance Quiz 2008.
Congratulating the champions and runners-up at a
felicitation ceremony attended by Executive Director R.
Nadarajah and General Manager/Chief Executive Ajitha
Pasqual, Seylan Bank Chairman Eastman Narangoda said
that the winning streak displayed by the Seylan teams
proved the fact that Seylan is a winning bank and able
to stand tall amid challenging circumstances.
further said, “This is not just isolated to the quizzes
but to the overall working of the bank where I have seen
how the entire Seylan team displays team spirit and
camaraderie within a knowledge gaining culture to ensure
that the bank is aligned to meeting its goals, mission
Commercial Bank opens another branch in Matara
Commercial Bank of Ceylon has enhanced its presence in
the southern part of the island by opening its third
customer service point in Matara, the Matara City
Office, to supplement the services provided by the
existing Commercial Bank branch at Station Road and the
Minicom situated in the Cargills Food City.
first branch in Matara was opened 36 years ago as the
fifth branch of Commercial Bank, bringing personalised
services to the public and traders of Matara. With the
rapid expansion of business, trading and industrial
activities in the area, there was a continuous increase
in the inflow of customers, leading to the opening of
the first MiniCom Centre in the entire Southern Province
“However, even this was not adequate to meet the
constantly increasing customer demands, requiring us to
open this new branch named, Matara City Office at No.
11, Beach Road, Matara,” a bank spokesman said. “The new
location will offer tremendous convenience to the public
as well as traders because it is located very close to
the main trading area and the main bus stand.”
new branch will be the 171st branch of the bank and will
be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. providing all types of
banking transactions. The new branch is linked to all
other Commercial Bank branches and the Supermarket
Banking counters islandwide permitting online real-time
banking. It is also equipped with an ATM linked to 335
ATMs of Commercial Bank, over 1,000 other ATMs locally
and over one million ATMs belonging to the Cirrus and
Visa networks islandwide.
Resilient performance from ntb
interim financials released to the Colombo Stock
Exchange last week, Nations Trust Bank PLC reported that
the group has achieved an operating profit before income
tax and Value Added Tax of Rs. 404.579 mn for the three
months ended March 31, 2009 against Rs. 288.405 mn
reported for the comparable period last year, reflecting
a 40% growth.
after taxes grew by 25% to Rs. 180.137 mn for the period
compared to Rs. 144.208 mn. Corresponding to the growth
in total assets of 9% and a significant increase in
non-fund based income, gross income of the bank grew by
22%. Increased forex volumes and active market
participation contributed to a 65% growth in foreign
exchange income while trading gains on government
securities by capitalising on declining interest rates,
credit cards and commissions boosted the other operating
income by 55%.
the wake of a significant slowdown in the local banking
industry, according to the Central Bank of
deposits growth has stabilised to 3.8% while loans and
advances have decreased by 0.4% during the first three
months of the year. In comparison, we have been able to
grow our deposits by 6% and loans and advances have also
shown a marginal growth in the backdrop of a stringent
credit policy being adopted due to unfavorable market
conditions,” noted Director / Chief Executive Officer,
Nations Trust Bank, Zulfiqar Zavahir.
investment in the customer service centers and related
delivery channels in the latter part of 2008 in line
with our business strategy has contributed to an
increase in operating expenses by 32% compared to the
first quarter of 2008. However, during the first quarter
of 2009, the bank managed to keep the growth in
operating expenses at a lower rate than the growth in
net income which was 44%, thereby improving the
operating efficiency and bringing the Cost : Income
ratio down from 61% to 56% compared to the 2008 first
Specific provisions however increased to Rs. 258.587 mn
for the period from Rs. 96.116 mn which includes certain
prudential provisions made on exposures over and above
the provisioning policy of the bank, which is more
stringent than the guidelines of the Central Bank.
the Gross NPL ratio deteriorated from 6% to 7.6%, the
increase in the NPL portfolio was relatively lower than
the industry, where NPLs increased by 23.4% according to
figures released by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
the backdrop of challenging market conditions, our
performance has been resilient. Continuing to be focused
on asset quality, risk management and cost control has
paid rich dividends under difficult circumstances.
Having made the prudential provisions in the first
quarter, the bank is in a strong position to face the
rest of the year with greater confidence,” Zavahir
July last year, Fitch Ratings Lanka Ltd. reaffirmed the
rating assigned to the bank of A(lka) which denotes a
strong credit risk relative to other issuers or issues
in the country.
Nations Trust Bank has grown rapidly over the last 10
years through a strategy of organic growth and
acquisitions. These included the tie up with American
Express credit cards and the merger with Mercantile
Leasing Ltd. In keeping with the vision of the bank
“Making life simple by being the benchmark of
convenience,” Nations Trust Bank provides customer
convenience through pioneering concepts such as ‘365 Day
Banking,’ mini branches, Personal Banking Centres, ‘Bank
At Your Doorstep’ and extended banking hours which have
helped to win over and maintain a strong customer base.
Pan Asia Bank ties up with Amana Takaful Insurance for
Asia Bank and Amana Takaful Insurance have collaborated
to offer Bancatakaful, under which, Takaful life
policies will be offered to all Pan Asia Bank customers
through the Pan Asia Bank branch network. This is yet
another first from Amana Takaful Insurance and Pan Asia
Takaful is an insurance system through which the
participants donate part of their contribution, which is
used to pay claims for damages suffered by some of the
participants while the balance goes into an investment
fund. Amana Takaful’s role is to manage the insurance
operations and invest insurance contributions in line
with Islamic principles.
Takaful is a novel way of insurance that is based firmly
on values of taking care of each other through trust,
equality and ethics. Takaful solutions are on par with
conventional insurance solutions but differ
fundamentally on the operation of the funds.
you obtain a Takaful Policy, part of your contributions
(premiums) are pooled into a fund known as Participants
Tabarru (Donation) Funds (PTF) and the balance to a
Participants Investment Fund (PIF). PTF is invested in
accordance with Shariah and is used to pay claims. PIF
is solely for the participants’ savings and investment;
PIF funds are invested on principles of Al Mudarabah,
which is a commercial profit sharing contract between
providers of funds and the entrepreneur who actually
conducts the business.
a specific period if the participant needs financial
assistance he or she could withdraw a considerable
percentage of the PIF. Policy holder has the privilege
in cancelling the policy at any given time and is
entitled to withdraw the PIF along with the profit,
subject to cancellation fee.
Takaful the risk fund i.e. PTF is owned by the
participants to the fund who are entitled to the
surplus, while conventional insurance it is owned by
shareholders who are entitled to the surplus.
Takaful operations are also governed not only by the
regulator but also by a council of scholars (Sharia
Board) who review and confirm the transparent nature of
operations and conformity with the concept.
Takaful Life products offer financial plans to ease the
burden of life’s unexpected
events. No matter the stage in life individuals have
commitments to keep and duties to perform.
Bancatakaful, Takaful life insurance solutions will be
available at all Pan Asia Bank counters, thus enabling
Pan Asia Bank customers to enjoy benefits such as
customised basic covers — death and permanent total
disablement, with a list of supplementary covers to
choose from to suit the individual needs, including a
comprehensive hospitalisation cover and surplus refund
at the end of the policy period.
Special leasing package
recently joined hands with Sterling Automobiles Lanka (Pvt)
Ltd. to offer a special leasing package for Chinese
manufactured FAW trucks.
HNB offer will include free motor insurance cover and
registration, an attractive tent, an HNB credit card,
and a life insurance cover worth Rs. 1.2 million at no
Imf loan is needed to kick-start the economy — Ajitha
think the most important thing that everybody is looking
at is the International Monetary Fund (IMF) package of
US$ 1.9 billion coming into the economy. For one thing,
it will boost our reserves and I feel it will stabilise
the dollar and help bring interest rates down. But there
is a lot of speculation as to what sort of leverage the
IMF will impose on the country. I think they will bring
in certain elements of control. But we need to get this
funding to kick-start the economy,” General Manager and
CEO, Seylan Bank Ajitha Pasqual told BENCHMARK last
week, discussing the ground situation, vis-à-vis the
state of the financial-services industry.
Commenting on the level of national debt and the much
needed development and reconstruction aid, Pasqual
noted: “I think we have been getting a lot of funding
in the last few years – they have been very supportive
and there have been a lot of projects. Iran has come in
and we have been talking to
there are a lot of funding lines available, especially
for developing the north-east; maybe even the south.
need to ensure that we negotiate these funding lines and
also that we utilise the funds that come in – that’s one
of the most important things. We find that funds are
Discussing the recent fiascos in the financial-services
industry and the importance of transparency and
corporate governance, he told the show’s Special
Correspondent Savithri Rodrigo that it was very
important to follow corporate governance guidelines.
have to be held accountable, because we cannot say, ‘we
did this because of something else.’ Accountability,
corporate governance and also responsibility to your
stakeholders are all important. You have a huge
responsibility to your staff and your customers. Of
course, there have been lapses, which are obvious. But
we need to learn from them and move on,” he added.
Touching on the silence on the part of the business
community with regard to certain high-priority issues
that confront us as a nation, Pasqual maintained that to
develop the nation, “we need to look at transparency in
a lot of dealings that go through… But whether they have
a means to ensure that transparency comes through is a
worry. There are people who have spoken out but most
people prefer to remain silent and do their own
business,” he conceded.
widely-watched business TV programme is presented by LMD
and produced by the Wrap Factory.
HNB’s fourth safe drinking water and sanitation project
safe drinking water and sanitation programme was
extended to Norochcholai, a village in the Kalpitiya
Pradeshiya Sabha in Puttalam District. About 600 people
from 100 families living around the Norochcholai
Economic Centre lacked access to a safe source of water.
The only water available was salty and metallic.
plight of these villagers was brought to the notice of
the bank by the HNB Puttalam team and the project was
undertaken as part of HNB’s community development
the support of the local authorities HNB was able to
identify a safe water source. A new tank was constructed
with a pump and pipes were laid out to supply water
right upto the village. To increase the convenience of
collecting water 40 taps have been set up approx 50
meters apart in the village. The tank was formally
handed over to the villagers on April 29 at a function
held at the Norachcholai Economic Centre.
Puttalam project was the fourth in a series of
initiatives by HNB following the United Nations
Millennium Development Goal of providing safe drinking
water. The first three projects under this scheme were
launched in Siruthopu (a village in Mannar District),
Araly (a village in Jaffna District) and Gonewa (a
village in Anuradapura District).
HNB Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation Project is
initiated with the guidance of Deputy General Manager -
HR and Administration, J.R. P.M. Paiva who is heading
the CSR initiative of the bank to provide safe drinking
water. Hatton National Bank plans to initiate similar
projects in Vakarai and Kataragama in the near future.
When the world stops to salute all mothers
child is carried in a mother’s womb for nine months
before he/she is blessed with the light of the world. To
every child his/her mother is the most perfect creature
on earth, the loveliest and the most infallible.
not all easy to be a role model mother. There are no
hard and fast written rules to be the ideal mother or
the ideal parent. The most important tip would be to
understand the responsibility of instilling the best
values in her child’s mind and bring the child up to be
a confident, happy and good human being.
ideal mother is one who inculcates the best of family
values in her children. She also has tonnes of patience
to put up with the childish tantrums and makes the child
feel satisfied and happy without being over-indulgent.
usually a mixture of the toughness of granite and
softness of blossoms, the sharpness of razor and the
coolness of mountain streams, the calmness of still
water and the purity of untrodden snow. She is the
child’s best friend. She is there for the child through
thick and thin. In one word, she is the light of her
child’s life. All mothers should aspire to be the role
model mother to your child.
Marriage, motherhood, maternal instinct, mothering,
maternal responses are all associated very closely with
the entity called mother. The way a mother feels for her
child is instinctive, with a number of hormonal and
psychological factors involved. There are certain
well-defined and clear-cut ways in which mothers react
to their responsibility of child bearing, child rearing
and home making.
women go through the phase of experiencing the fantasies
of the motherhood myth and many other myths associated
with it, for example, myth of “instant bonding” and of
“ideal mother.” This fantasy actually prepares the
mother in her to undergo the entire painfully
pleasurable experience of mothering a child.
myths of instant bonding and ideal mother make the whole
concept of motherhood seem so rosy, stimulating,
meaningful and enriching. They actually encourage every
woman to cherish the feeling of being a mother to a
child and also the desire of mothering the child in the
most perfect manner possible.
today’s economic environment many Sri Lankan mothers
have the difficult task of balancing work and looking
after the children. Today the working mother is a
superwoman with the extraordinary flair for balancing
her family responsibilities and her responsibilities as
an employee. As the saying goes, she has to have her
cake and also eat it.
motto to balance work and life — a working woman is
striving to excel in both. The exponentially rising
number of working women in organisations is proof of
toughest part is to strike the right balance so that the
family members do not feel neglected on account of her
career and at the same time she should not be left far
behind when it comes to fulfilling her job
responsibilities. Instead of looking for sympathy and
consideration from her employee and colleagues, she
should try and succeed in not giving anybody a chance to
differentiate her from her full-time devoted women
co-workers without family responsibilities.
role is tough and challenging. One needs plenty of
emotional strength and a steely determination. The
successful, role model mothers have proved that the idea
of working mother and impact on child is not that scary
anymore. The fact that, even single mothers can set
excellent standards and above par examples when it comes
to raising children, is now a proven fact. Society is
now more considerate, supportive and receptive to this
new genre of working mothers abounding in almost every
this Mother’s Day let all mothers young and old, working
and non-working take a bow, for this is your day.
A tribute to Mother’s Day from Mother’s Touch Vocational
month of May brings to us the wonderful opportunity to
celebrate the unique occasion called Mother’s Day. For
each of us, this is the time to pay tribute to the
special person whose soft hands nurtures us and who has
made it possible for us to see the light of the world.
This is the time to acknowledge your mother’s
contribution in your life.
is a special day during the month of May, honoring all
mothers, celebrated in many countries such as Denmark,
Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, Belgium and around
the world (also known as the month of Our Lady/Our
impossible to pay back even a fraction of the affection
and care that we get from our mothers but we can show
our love and affection for her on this special day.
Mother’s Day is a symbol of the deep love of every human
being for his/her mother and is a day set aside only
for the mother — one of the most beautiful persons in
the demanding schedules that modern day life has tied us
down with, it is the most opportune moment to tell her
what she is in your life and what she means to you. But
the major question that arises on everyone’s lips is –
how to celebrate Mother’s Day and how to give dear mum a
often done with flowers, gifts, cards, breakfast in bed,
dining out, just to give a few examples. However, we
cannot forget the fact that it complements Father’s Day,
the celebration honoring fathers.
concept of Mother’s Day, it would be significant to
correlate the occasion with Mother’s Touch International
Vocational Academy, at No. 6, Walter Gunasekera Mawatha,
Nawala, Sri Lanka. It is the brain child of Geetha
Kaduwela, who returned from Australia, armed with her
training and qualification.
opened up her Teaching Academy with relevant (NVQ)
Diploma courses such as Childcare Management, Early
Childhood Development & Education and the Montessori
Method of Education, which are conducted by her and she
is ably assisted by Janaki Fernando. The latest addition
to Mother’s Touch Academy is the International
Vocational Qualification (IVQ) of Children’s Care,
Learning & Development of City & Guilds UK.
highlighted in many previous articles by Mother’s Touch
Academy, early childhood is the most crucial period of
life. Children who experience the joy of early learning
are happy, confident and fulfilled individuals. In
essence, early childhood education helps bring forth the
giftedness of each child.
mother is the first caregiver and teacher who should be
well aware of the needs of the child, and shower him
with love and care and also make the child familiar with
his home and care giving environment. The mother should
have a special place to teach her children, and this is
known as “school at mother’s knee.”
Mother’s Touch Academy, the Director Geetha Kaduwela,
herself a mother of five children, is a mother who has
the invisible current to generate and illuminate the
lives of all her students — mother’s to be, young
mothers, mothers and grand mothers! In conclusion,
Mother’s Touch Academy wishes each and every mother in
Sri Lanka and the world over, a very happy Mother’s Day
Mother’s Touch International Vocational Academy can be
reached at 011 2805047.
Ninewellskids — the children’s boutique
have recently discovered that you are expecting a baby,
then you are probably going to go through a mix of
emotions. At first, there will be the sheer joy and
excitement of knowing that you are bringing another life
into this world. Nothing can top the feeling you got the
moment you learned the great news.
However, once you start to consider the practical side
of impending parenthood, you might begin worrying about
the financial burden you are likely to incur. It is
simply a matter of fact that it can be costly to take
care of a newborn child. These feelings are absolutely
normal, as lots of young parents go through the exact
Fortunately, there is some relief for people in your
position. The best place for you to shop for cute baby
items is at Ninewellskids at Ninewells Care Mother &
Baby Hospital (Pvt) Ltd. There you can conveniently find
everything at very competitive prices for babies.
Representing the best brands in the industry the items
are all carefully selected.
Especially for all expectant parents, there is nothing
more fun and exciting than buying layette items, a crib,
toys and other stuff for their soon to be born babies.
This is particularly true if the child is a first-born.
Whether you are just setting up a nursery or looking for
newborn outfits, nursery, furniture and decorations,
bathing supplies, toys and activity baby products like
walkers and play centers, this shop can provide you with
all your needs. A great selection of baby products
coupled with the convenience and competitive pricing
makes the Ninewellskids shop the greatest way for you
and your newborn child to enjoy.
Ninewellskids presents gift ideas to those who want to
share some love with their nephews, nieces,
granddaughters or grandsons. These are often in baby
gift basket form that contain various essential mother
and baby items.
next time you want to pick up something for your baby or
toddler, walk over to Ninewellskids – you’ll be happily
surprised with the collection, the display and the