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CSE’s newest digital push expected to make it worth US$ 60 billion in 5 years

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by Sanath Nanayakkare

The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) with its newest digitalization drive should do well enough in the next 5 years to accumulate a market capitalization of US $ 60 billion, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, State Minister of Money and Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms said yesterday.

“Then the Colombo Stock Exchange will have a capacity which can provide funding not only to the government sector but also to the private sector making sure that the President’s goals of prosperity will be achieved,” he said.

Minister Cabraal made these remarks on the trading floor of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) yesterday at a special market opening ceremony where Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa launched a new digital platform for CSE, enhancing the investment experience for investors, stockbrokers, listed companies and other stakeholders.

The digital strategy themed ‘Hyper-Leap to the future’ is formed to digitalise all stakeholder touchpoints enabling end to end connectivity electronically. It will position Sri Lanka to become a global financial hub redefining the stock market landscape.

Elaborating on his point the state minister said,” As a person who on been involved in the stock exchange and securities matters for a long time in various capacities, I know how difficult it is to get a project of this nature going. I know you have put in a lot of work. Way back in 1993 at the time I was the president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, we organized the mCentral Depository System (CDS) for the first time. I think that was a revolution – a special one- because all the brokers who were struggling with share certificates and documentation were suddenly relieved of all these duties and they could go out and sell, go out and make the market a lot more vibrant. I see an opportunity like that once again,

“The digitalization will take away from brokers as well as market players a lot of paperwork and mundane tasks that have been so far done by you personally. When you are relieved of these duties I am sure you will find enough time to make the market work more efficiently and productively. You need to have buyers whose numbers are increasing and you need to have sellers who will be providing the supply of shares in this business. This means you need to focus on these vital areas and aspects in the market.

“You have got to make sure that the number of shares you have is expanded regularly. I have been around long enough to know that the number of companies that have been trading on the stock exchange has remained almost stagnant for so many years. Every time when someone asks how many companies are there on the stock exchange, we say 200 something. I think this ‘200 something’ has been the number for the last 30 years. So, 5 years from now, we’d like to see this number being spoken of as ‘500 something’. I think you all can do that. As CSE chairman already mentioned there is an effort to make these numbers grow. There is ample opportunity. If all of you take the pains to do that, you can make it happen.

“In 2014, when President Mahinda Rajapaksa relinquished office at the end of 2014 – the market capitalization of CSE was 25 billion dollars. By the end of 2019, it came down to just half of that. – only 12 ½ billion dollars, marking a massive drop. We need to grow this market again. We need to make sure that your efforts are directed towards making the market to expand. The Director General of SEC said, you want the government to come here and use this as a repository of funds. With a 12 ½ billion dollar market cap, I don’t think you can do that. So set your sights high. Set your sights at US $ 60 billion dollars, if I may suggest, for the next 5 years. Then you will have a capacity which can provide funding not only to the government sector but to the private sector making sure that the President’s goals of prosperity will be achieved.

“My Friends, we have our work cut out. The President and the Prime Minister have given you the indication that support will be extended to the stock exchange. I have been appointed as state minister in order to make us responsible for that task. So, I personally will be supporting you. I would like to see you take the direction to move forward. Now you have digitalization in place. I think you need to build on that foundation. There will be plenty to do to achieve our goal. You have got to make sure that you bring in capital that will support the market. This is not going to be easy. I remember from 2007 onwards we were going abroad, we were making sure that capital was adequate in this country.- When we could not raise it globally, we raised it from foreign sources. So, you need to do that. You need to provide capital to companies and you need to provide capital so that new instruments could also be put in place in this country. It would be of total relevance to see an SME Board, a Startup Board, an IT Board and maybe a mechanism to list the BOI companies also on the stock exchange. This means there ‘s plenty of space. Now that you have had the first hurdle cleared, the next is also going to be exciting and we’d like to see you take it up from here. Together we can usher in an era of prosperity in our country with the participation of a truly representative investor community,” he said.

SEC chairman President’s Counsel Viraj Dayaratne, SEC Director General Chinthaka Mendis, CSE chairman Dumith Fernando, and CSE CEO Rajeeva Bandaranaike also spoke at the event.



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Ransomware menace plagues Sri Lankan businesses: Kaspersky

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A total of 2,650 ransomware incidents were detected and blocked by Kaspersky cybersecurity solutions for businesses in Sri Lanka from January to December 2023.

Experts from the global cybersecurity company insist on organisations, regardless of shape and size, to beef up their IT security posture as ransomware, especially the targeted type, continues to be a damaging menace for organisations in the region.

“The era of widespread mass attacks by encryptors on both individuals and businesses is gradually fading away. Instead, we are witnessing a shift towards organised groups that execute hacks involving data theft and encryption, commonly referred to as double extortion. The rationale behind this evolution lies in the perpetrators’ ability to operate with greater efficiency, thereby enabling them to demand significantly higher ransom sums,” says Fedor Sinitsyn, Lead Malware Analyst at Kaspersky.

Last year, ransomware incidents in Sri Lanka include the compromise of 5,000 government-related emails as well as attacks on telecom servers.

“It’s evident that the threat actors behind ransomware attacks target all sectors in Sri Lanka. The total number of attempts may be low, but organisations need to realise the real impact of each successful ransomware infection, both on the financial and reputation fronts. It’s imperative for businesses here to look into cybersecurity technologies that provide absolute anti-ransomware effectiveness in third-party exams. Because not all cybersecurity solutions are created equal,” Yeo Siang Tiong, General Manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky.

Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business, Kaspersky Small Office Security and Kaspersky Standard demonstrated complete protection against ransomware in 10 different real-life attack scenarios during regular Advanced Threat Protection assessments held by AV-TEST.

To combat ransomware and assist those affected, Kaspersky, alongside Europol, the Dutch National Police, and others has the No More Ransom initiative, launched in 2016. On the official website, participants provide decryption tools, guidelines, and instructions to report cybercrimes, irrespective of the location of the incident.

By the end of 2023, Kaspersky marked the seventh anniversary as a key contributor to the No More Ransom initiative. This period witnessed expanded access to Kaspersky’s free decryption tools, in line with its commitment to combating ransomware. These tools, targeting 39 ransomware families, have been integral in assisting nearly 2 million victims globally, as reported by Europol, underscoring the profound impact of the No More Ransom initiative supported by Kaspersky.

To protect yourself and your business from ransomware attacks, consider following the rules proposed by Kaspersky experts:

Do not expose remote desktop/management services (such as RDP, MSSQL, etc.) to public networks unless absolutely necessary and always use strong passwords, two-factor authentication and firewall rules for them.

Promptly install available patches for commercial VPN solutions providing access for remote employees and acting as gateways in your network.

Always keep software updated on all the devices you use to prevent ransomware from exploiting vulnerabilities.

Focus your defense strategy on detecting lateral movements and data exfiltration to the Internet. Pay special attention to the outgoing traffic to detect cybercriminals’ connections.

Back up data regularly with special attention to offline backup strategies. Make sure you can quickly access it in an emergency when needed.

Avoid downloading and installing pirated software or software from unknown sources.

Assess and audit your supply chain and managed services’ access to your environment.

Prepare an action plan for reputational risk of your data exposure in the unfortunate event of data theft.

Use solutions like Kaspersky Endpoint Detection and Response Expert and Kaspersky Managed Detection and Response service which help to identify and stop the attack on early stages, before attackers reach their final goals.

To protect the corporate environment, educate your employees. Dedicated training courses can help, such as the ones provided in the Kaspersky Automated Security Awareness Platform.

Use the latest Threat Intelligence information to stay aware of actual TTPs used by threat actors. The Kaspersky Threat Intelligence Portal is a single point of access for Kaspersky’s TI, providing cyberattack data and insights gathered by our team for over 26 years.

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IDB and MOI organize National Vehicle Parade with all domestically value-added vehicles

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A vehicle parade of locally manufactured and assembled vehicles organized by the Industrial Development Board (IDB) along with the Ministry of Industries (MOI), Sri Lanka Automobile Component Manufacturers Association (SLACMA) and Automobile Assemblers Association will be held for the third time, through Galle Face, Lotus Roundabout , Fort, Technical Junction, Punchikawatta, Maradana, Borella, Borella cemetery junction and to BMICH on June 18, 2024 from 4pm onwards. The IDB under the Ministry of Industries is a key stakeholder in the Standard Operating Procedure which facilitates automobile assembly and component manufacturing in the country. The roadshow will see a fleet of over 200 locally assembled vehicles parade the streets.

Chairman of Industrial Development Board Dr. Saranga Alahapperuma stated, “The IDB which is the statutory body responsible for the development of all industries in Sri Lanka, has a mission to provide the strategic, technological and commercial foundation needed to encourage, promote and develop all industries in the country. Hyundai, Proton, Chery, BAIC, DFSK, Wuling, Mahindra, TATA, JMC, Lanka Ashok Leyland, TVS and Bajaj are few of the brands that are assembled in Sri Lanka with the approval and certification of the Industrial Development Board.”

The services of the IDB are of great benefit to the automobile and auto component manufacturing and automobile assembly industry in the country.

It is the authority responsible for overseeing the auto component development, design, testing and certification for industries, automotive component costing and process/product optimization services, raw material testing and selection for automotive components, plant, machinery, equipment, tool appraisal and valuation and incubator facilities for automotive component developers. It is also the national tooling center for automotive component development and provides services such as foundry and metallurgy services for automotive component developers, technical inspection services, rubber compound development for automotive components and electro-plating services for automotive components through a network of district offices covering the entire island.

The IDB also provides industrialists with industry information services, incubator facilities, and even an electricity subsidy.

“The facilities provided by the IDB will help create a very favorable environment for the automobile manufacturing and assembly industry and the automotive component manufacturing industry to match world standards. The Sri Lanka Automobile Component Manufacturers Association (SLACMA) and Automobile Assemblers Association both are committed to help organize the Vehicle Parade annually, to whom which I thank for their efforts.” Alahapperuma said.

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Q+ Payment App goes trilingual to further facilitate payments for the masses

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Highlights of the launch events in Nittambuwa and Jaffna,

‘Q+ Payment App’ – the first LankaQR certified mobile payment app in Sri Lanka – has gone trilingual with the launch of its groundbreaking Sinhala and Tamil versions at twin events held in Nittambuwa and Jaffna respectively.

Powered by the Commercial Bank of Ceylon, the Q+ Payment App is now available in the preferred language of the user, making the App and its payment options available to a much wider customer base covering the entire island.

The launch of the Sinhala version of Q+ Payment App took place at the Nihal Fashions complex in Nittambuwa, and was supported with a Cashback offer for QR payments for purchases from the merchant, the Bank said. The event was attended by the Head of the ComBank Card Centre Mr Nishantha De Silva, the Bank’s Regional Manager – Colombo Metro Mr Hemantha Sooriyabandara, branch managers from the area, and the management and staff of Nihal’s Group.

The Tamil version of Q+ Payment App was launched at TCT Multi Trade Centre in Jaffna, also with the participation of the Bank’s Head of Card Centre Mr Nishantha De Silva, Regional Manager – Northern Mr A. Jeyabalan, several branch managers and senior Bank staff from the region and the management and staff of TCT Multi Trade Centre.

Positioned as the next dimension of payment options, the Q+ Payment App enables cardholders to pay through multiple payment options via their mobile phones including ‘Scan & Pay’ by scanning the merchant’s QR code. Since the launch, the app has undergone numerous functionality-enhancing upgrades. Besides all the multiple payment options it offers, Q+ Payment App has also been enabled for different methods of fund transfers and scheduled payment options supported by year-round attractive Cashback offers, promotions and lifestyle events.

Q+ Payment App is the only QR payment app in Sri Lanka that supports six types of QR codes – LankaQR, VisaQR, MastercardQR, UnionPayQR, Indian UPIQR & Alipay QR. It was adjudged the Best Mobile App for Retail Payments in Sri Lanka for the last two years by LankaPay.

Sri Lanka’s first 100% carbon neutral bank, Commercial Bank is the largest private sector bank in Sri Lanka and the first Sri Lankan bank to be listed among the Top 1000 Banks of the World.

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