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2020, a turnaround year for Stock Market in Sri Lanka

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* Benchmark ASPI recorded a growth of 10.5% in 2020

* 2020 market turnover highest since 2011

* Market Capitalization grown a trillion rupees since 12th May 2020

* Increasing interest among local youth a key feature

The Sri Lanka stock market ended 2020 on a positive note today, marking a year in which the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) has seen indices indicate noteworthy resilience and attract record-breaking levels of trading activity.

 

Market Performance

The benchmark All share Price Index (ASPI) closed 2020 recording a growth of 10.5%, the highest annual increase the index has seen since 2014 and only the 12th occasion the index has seen a double digit percentage growth in CSE’s 35 year history. The ASPI ended 2020 on 6774.22 points. Sri Lanka’s ASPI was also recorded as the best performing stock market index for the month of September 2020, with the index recording a remarkable 12% growth during the month.

The ASPI on 12th May 2020 recorded its lowest point in over a decade but recovered from this to post a 59% gain by the end of the year. Although the S&P SL20 index, which features the CSE’s 20 largest and most liquid stocks has declined by 10.1% in 2020, the index has recovered substantially indicating a trend similar to the ASPI with 57% growth since 12th May, closing at 2638.10 points as of 31st December 2020.

The overall value of the stock market, which is represented by the Market capitalization, has also improved adding Rs. 109 Billion during 2020 and more substantially by Rs. 983 Billion since 12th May. The market recorded a daily average turnover of Rs. 1.9 Billion, this daily average turnover is the highest recorded for a year since 2011. The total turnover for the year was Rs. 397 Billion which was also the highest since 2011.

Overall market activity in terms of the average number of trades carried out during a trading day also increased significantly, ending double the average figure recorded in 2019 and triple the figure recorded in 2018. This indicates high investor participation.

Local Investor Interest a key Highlight

A significant increase in CDS account openings was observed in 2020 with 17,600 new investors entering the market which is 70% higher than the number of new investors in 2019 and 56% higher than 2018. Local investors have contributed to approx. 79% of the total market turnover in 2020 which is higher when compared to approx. 63% in 2019 and 55% the year prior to that.

The year 2020 has also seen a greater interest among younger investors in the retail segment, with 46% of the total accounts opened being attributed to the 18-30 age group. This marks an interesting development considering the fact that a large portion of retail stock market investors have traditionally been above 50 years of age.

 

A capital outflow trend in terms of foreign investors

On the foreign investment front, 2020 has recorded a net foreign outflow of Rs. 51 Billion, largely in line with the foreign fund outflow trend recorded in emerging and frontier markets. However it is noteworthy that Sri Lankan equities attracted purchases worth Rs. 53 Billion during 2020 by foreign investors, ending close to the Rs. 56 billion figure recorded in 2019. The stock market at present continues to indicate attractive valuations relative to other markets in the region.

Growth Initiatives

The Colombo Stock Exchange also introduced a number a progressive growth measures during the year to enhance operational efficiencies and the attractiveness of the Sri Lankan stock market in the perspective of both investors and issuers.

The Digitalization drive of the Sri Lankan stock market which was implemented in 2020 has enabled end-to-end connectivity electronically at all stakeholder touchpoints and was implemented as an industry-wide exercise, bringing substantial convince to investors and operational efficiencies to stakeholders.

During the year CSE also expanded the eligibility criteria for initial listing of shares on the Main Board and the Diri Savi Board to enable a wider spectrum of companies to qualify for a listing. Rule revisions, which were also carried out during the year brought about changes to the IPO timelines and the basis of allotting shares which were done to complement Sri Lanka’s rapidly developing commercial landscape comprising multiple business models and segments. The revisions were directed at improving the efficiency of the listing process while offering greater flexibility to companies listing on the CSE.

 

2021

Commenting on key developments to be expected in 2021 CSE Chairman Dumith Fernando Said “In 2021, major market infrastructure developments, Product Diversification, widening of the investor base, building a sustainable business model and more importantly working with the Government and the regulator to position the CSE as a pivotal point for capital raising are all on the cards. Increasing the number of companies listed on the exchange is one of the CSE’s key strategic objectives and we are making steady progress on this front. We look forward to enhancing the listing process and establishing a single window within the CSE for potential listings that would make a Public listing on the Exchange a smooth and efficient process.”

Dumith went onto say “Similar to the Real Estate investment Trusts frame work which was introduced in the final quarter of 2020, we are working on the creation of an OTC market for REPOs on Corporate Debt, trading of Gold-backed products and Stock borrowing and lending. On the Regulatory and Governance fronts, we believe the new SEC Act will be an important development covering regulatory changes required for continuing to safeguard investor rights, enabling the de-mutualization of the CSE, facilitating new product development and strengthening the effectiveness of market regulation And of course we see many of the value drivers which have supported strong market performance since May, continuing into the new year. Thus we are entering 2021 on a hopeful but positive note.”

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Sampath Bank continues to partner Central Bank on promoting QR payments

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Sampath Bank PLC joined hands with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) yet again to raise awareness and increase acceptance and usage of LANKAQR, the common Quick Response (QR) code standard for the country that was introduced in 2020.

Encouraging consumers to adopt LANKAQR for their day to day transactions, Sampath Bank held a 2-day promotional drive at one of Colombo’s latest outdoor dining destinations, Dining Capsule at Baladaksha Mawatha, near Galle Face Green on the 23rd and 24th of January.

Dharmasri Kumaratunga, Director – Payments and Settlements, Central Bank of Sri Lanka; Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC; and Tharaka Ranwala, Head of Operations and Group Chief Marketing Officer, Sampath Bank PLC, took part in the ceremonial launch of this initiative together with other senior representatives.

The Bank offered 25% cash back on payments made with the LANKAQR-enabled Sampath WePay digital payments mobile application at Dunhinda Colombo, Roots, Grand Monarch, Street Wok, Lavinia, Spice Junction, Giovanni’s Pizza al Taglio and BoxBar outlets at the Dining Capsule during this period.

“Offering greater convenience and security, technology continues to transform the way we conduct our day to day transactions. This is becoming increasingly true in Sri Lanka too, where consumers and businesses are actively adopting digital payments,” said Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC. “At Sampath Bank we have always focused on leveraging emerging technologies and delivering market relevant solutions that add value to our customers around the island. In line with this, we are delighted to partner with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka on driving the acceptance and usage of LANKAQR.”

“Across Sri Lanka, a growing number of merchants and consumers are getting on board the LANKAQR ecosystem and beginning to appreciate the value offered by QR based payments. We are witnessing this phenomenon with Sampath WePay, the secure, one stop digital wallet from Sampath Bank that allows users to store all types of financial instruments from any bank and carry out a wide range of real-time online transactions.

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Taking cashless transactions across the country

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The Central Bank of Sri Lanka in coordination with leading financial institutions and telcos in the country set in motion the ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ promotional campaign with a monumental event on January, 23. The ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ initiative represents the second phase of an island-wide campaign commenced late last year to introduce LANKAQR as the standard for mobile phone and digital payments countrywide, in moving towards a cashless and digitally-savvy society plus greater financial inclusion across Sri Lanka.

Held at Diyatha Uyana, Battaramulla, the event was graced by the Chief Guest, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, State Minister of Money & Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms, Ms. Yvette Fernando, Deputy Governor CBSL and the chairperson of the National Payments Council, D. Kumaratunge, Director Payments and Settlements – CBSL, and Thilak Piyadigama, chairman – CBSL appointed LANKAQR Committee/CEO SDB bank, among other distinguished guests.

The Colombo-leg of the LANKAQR national campaign, drawing on the participation of numerous high-profile guests plus the island’s top banks and financial institutions, aimed to advance the program’s overall vision of promoting digital transactions as the new norm and included city-wide promotions, covering major commercial locations in and around the city.

Developed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, LANKAQR is a common Quick Response (QR) code standard, and its adoption by most major financial institutions in Sri Lanka is a progressive step on the path to Sri Lankans fully embracing a future that is inevitably digital, gradually leading to an entirely cashless mode of transaction.

The LANKAQR system will allow banks, financial institutions and telcos, through their digital payment apps and platforms, to facilitate fast, secure and low cost digital payments to any merchant or service provider. LANKAQR provides customers with a mechanism for payment for all their needs ranging from groceries, healthcare to utilities, and even the purchase of goods from street-side vendors, directly from their bank account through the use of any LANKAQR-compliant mobile payment app.

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SLT-MOBITEL gives ‘Power to Your Dreams’ with special connectivity offers

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SLT-MOBITEL is all set to launch the ‘Power to Your Dreams – සිහිනයට සවියක්’ campaign to provide the latest connectivity solutions to microbusinesses on the of January, 25 the company announced recently. This program will provide ICT solutions packages encompassing products and services essential for microbusinesses, at maximum affordability.

Understanding the connectivity needs of the microbusiness segment, the promotion provides them solutions that fulfil their requirements. Accordingly, communication, business networking, cloud technology, entertainment & IoT, communications devices and business infrastructure services for various market segments within the microbusiness ecosystem is provided utilising SLT-MOBITEL products and services such as voice & mobile telephony, 4G LTE, SLT Broadband, SLT Fibre and Peo TV services.

Speaking on the planned promotion, Sanjeewa Jayamaha, General Manager – SME Business Development, Sri Lanka Telecom stated, “Microbusinesses are the bedrock of Sri Lanka’s economic activity, supporting day to day transactions for millions of people. It is vitally important that they receive the full benefit of the connectivity solutions offered by the national ICT solutions provider, Sri Lankan Telecom. The brand unification of SLT-MOBITEL means now we can offer a full bouquet of products and services to our clients. This promotion will ensure that microbusinesses from various segments can now access the connectivity solutions most important for their businesses to thrive.”

Microbusinesses operating in entertainment and leisure, fashion and beauty, daily essentials, medical and health care, education, special occasion services, financial services, e-commerce and software development, professional services, construction support and transportation and delivery services will be able to benefit from bespoke packages crafted by SLT-MOBITEL with their specific industry needs taken into consideration.

 

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