Collaboration has been at the heart of the Bank’s success – particularly as it expands its influence in the region and beyond. As the customer base further diversifies, it is natural that employees and partners follow suit to cater to the needs of diverse customers.
Collaborating with business partners
The Bank also works with business partners across the region and beyond to ensure that the in-depth financial industry knowledge andwide-ranging banking skills of its employees are supported by local knowledge, to be in sync with the local customers
In the Maldives the Bank has partnered with Tree Top Investments to better understand the local banking scenario so that the services are relatable to this customer segment. In the Middle East, the Bank’s business partners help provide remittance services for expatriate customers
( refer Reaching out to other overseas customers for details).
Partnership for Remittance
Commercial Bank is one of the most active players in Sri Lanka in the field of remittances, offering migrant and expatriate workers a range of options including “e-Exchange” MoneyGram, Ria and Express Money remittance services. The Bank set up a money remittance business in South Korea in 2014 and expanded it in 2018 by collaborating with Global Money Express Co. Ltd to launch “mobile-to-account” remittance service, the first Sri Lankan bank to do so. As South Korean regulators have approved the digital KYC (Know Your Customer) process, the 30,000 strong Sri Lankan expatriates workers there can now avail themselves of real time remittance services through Commercial Bank.
South Korea is an active market for Sri Lankan workers who on average earn well above the average earning levels of Sri Lankan expatriates in the Middle East and in the countries of East Asia. According to the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment, an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 new visas are offered to Sri Lanka by South Korea every year making this market a potentially lucrative one for the Bank.
Partnerships using Blockchain
While waiting for regulatory clearance for Blockchain-related banking services in Sri Lanka, the Bank has partnered with Ripplenet, a global payments network leveraging Blockchain technology that facilitates both inward and regulator-enabled outward Blockchain technology-powered remittances. These remittances are instant, with an end-to-end tracing and tracking solution that ensures the process is transparent. It also makes viable remittances of lower denominations due to the lower rates that apply. Blockchain also removes the requirement for a middleman resulting in lower costs. Ripplenet’s technology is equipped with an anti-fraud feature that makes it difficult for outsiders to tamper with transactions. A network of over 200 banking partners, such as Bank of America, Crédit Agricole, Santander, Al Rajhi Bank, and National Bank of Kuwait, are connected to our partner Blockchain system.
Flash Digital Bank Account
Our partnership with Singapore-based FinTech company “Kashmi”, is a good example of the type of functionality, we
hope to offer customers in the future.
This partnership has already resulted in
the soft launch of Flash, Sri Lanka’s first
fully-fledged digital bank account. It provides our customers, especially the millennial generation, with a seamless banking experience, wherever they are.
Using their mobile phones, customers are able to make payments via QR codes to both individuals and merchants, while also making use of location-specific marketing alerts about discounts and promotions. NFC (Near-Field Communication) based payments allow for simple tap-and-go spending where users do not wish to use cash. For additional security, Flash users can register their biometrics to reduce further risk. Flash also offers unique personal financial management tools that encourage, empower and embolden users to better engage with their finances, and make wise and informed decisions about spending and saving.
Collaboration with suppliers
Business partners that the Bank engages with are evaluated for sustainability practices and where concerns are identified we initiate regular dialogue on the issues, working towards resolving them and encouraging best practices. For instance, the services of debt collection agents to recover unsecured personal loans and credit card dues are covered by an agreement which sets out rules for ethical conduct. These agencies are regularly monitored and any breach or violation is swiftly dealt with, which may even lead to termination of contract. With regard to business partners where significant influence may not be viable every effort is made to resolve the issues amicably. Wherever possible, we have made stand-by arrangements to face any contingency.
During the year we engaged with an estimated 1,100 number of business partners and have created an estimated value of over Rs. 7 Bn. Over 90% value so created has been for the suppliers of local origin in both in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
The Bank is among Sri Lanka’s 10 most valuable consumer brands and has been for 15 years, consecutively (as per Brand Finance Lanka), supporting the Bank’s growth over the years. With suppliers of solar panels and air conditioners in particular – areas that have a high potential for energy saving – we have leveraged this brand strength, to ensure compliance with our sustainability standards.
Collaborating with our supply chain to ensure it remains sustainable is important to us
Ranging from corporates to SMEs and individuals, our business partners deliver and derive value through provision of products and services as illustrated in the Figure 18 above.
Collaboration for sustainable finance
We pride ourselves in having pioneered the adoption of sustainable banking practices in Sri Lanka for the betterment of the communities within which we operate. We continue to work on the formulation of a Sustainable Banking Initiative (SBI) in the country in partnership with 18 members of the Sri Lanka Banks’ Association. Together we aim to achieve the following:
- Provide a platform that facilitates proactive decision-making
- Coordinate efforts to increase efficiency and effectiveness within banks
- Agree on minimum standards or principles for integrating environmental and social considerations into operations
Funded by DEG of Germany, OeEB of Austria, Proparco of France and FMO of Netherlands, the SBI is supported by the Sri Lanka Banks’ Association (SLBA).