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Insurance industry looks at Bionic Insuring in a ‘new normal’

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COVID-19 has disrupted most businesses globally and the insurance industry is no exception. Given the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, insurers have been compelled to accelerate their digital journeys and holistically digitize their operations. In this regard, the Insurance Association of Sri Lanka (IASL) hosted a webinar on ‘What does it mean to be a truly bionic insurance company?’ with Boston Consulting Group (BCG) as its knowledge partner, on February 23.

Prateek Roongta, MD & Partner, BCG facilitated the event and Pallavi Malani, MD & Partner, BCG delivered the keynote presentation, which was followed by a panel discussion comprising Thushara Ranasinghe, MD / CEO of Ceylinco Life Insurance Limited, Sanjeev Jha, MD and CEO of Fairfirst Insurance, and Pranay Mehrotra, MD & Senior Partner, BCG. The panel discussion was moderated by Chilman Jain, Principal, BCG Colombo.

Pallavi Malani of BCG, while addressing 60+ CXOs from Sri Lanka’s insurance industry, explained what being ‘bionic’ means and outlined the imperatives for becoming a bionic insurer in the post-COVID-19 world. In order to achieve bionic outcomes, insurers need to integrate human elements with technology and not replace one with another. “There is a need to empower talent and enhance efficiencies by leveraging the right tech stack and data. However, businesses will still have to engage with new talent pools and create agile teams to effectively make the shift to bionic ways of working”, she said.

Pallavi further discussed the five archetypes within which distinguished bionic players fall – i) Sales digitizers, ii) Data players, iii) Operations optimizers, iv) Innovators, and v) Digital natives. The discussion was made real with the example of PingAn, the largest Life Insurance company in China. Despite a salesforce of 1.3 million agents, PingAn has a ‘digital attacker agency distribution’ model and boasts of approximately 40% higher productivity than the second largest player in China. It has progressed from leveraging traditional technologies to mobile internet, to now using artificial intelligence (AI) across agent recruitment, training, agent management, sales model, and services. “PingAn has truly been a pioneer in digitizing its entire sales force, at scale,” shared Pallavi.

Pranay Mehrotra, Managing Director & Senior Partner, BCG emphasized on the need to use data as a differentiator. Data players are creating value by building digital foundations, developing new technology capabilities, implementing use case driven transformation, and improving overall data governance.

In his opening remarks, Thushara Ranasinghe, MD/CEO of Ceylinco Life Insurance Limited said, “In 2019, the Sri Lankan insurance industry grew by 10.5% and in 2020, it grew by an estimated 16%. Despite the lockdown, insurers were able to witness steep growth, proving that adversity reveals genius”. He stated that the pandemic took everyone by surprise and rendered all business continuity manuals irrelevant. Nevertheless, Ceylinco was able to quickly adapt to the changing situation and recover from the initial shock by installing proper infrastructure in place.

Sanjeev Jha of FairFirst Insurance said, “COVID-19 has taken away our choice to invest in digital initiatives or data optimization. Bionic is the need of the hour. Insurance companies typically are data intensive and cognizant of risks. Organizations that don’t become digitally sensitive would miss the race.”

In line with this chain of thought, Pranay from BCG emphasized the importance of transforming the agency channel. “COVID-19 is expected to accelerate digitization of the agency channel. Omni channel is expected to be a norm in the future. While it hasn’t happened in the last 12 months, a war for talent is imminent. Digitally evolved companies will be better positioned to capture, share, and create value as opposed to their traditional counterparts,” he said.



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LOLC Al-Falaah unveils pioneering Wadi’ah Gold-Storage Facility with multiple customer benefits

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Sri Lanka’s most awarded and trusted Alternate Financial services brand, LOLC Al-Falaah recently unveiled their ground-breaking new product – the Wadi’ah Gold Loan Facility. This is the 1st time a Finance company in Sri Lanka is offering this facility. Al-Falaah Wadi’ah is a unique gold storage option offered to Al-Falaah’s valued customer base. All gold articles are tested for quality and authenticity using state-of-the art equipment by the company’s experienced staff without causing any damage to the jewellery. A unique ‘Gold Storage Certificate’ with the description of articles, including weight, quality and quantity along with the market value will be issued to the customer when obtaining this facility.

Speaking about the new product, Mr. Shiraz Refai, Deputy General Manager of LOLC Al-Falaah said, “Gold is a favourite investment option at all levels within the concentrated community. The metal is usually pawned, sold or exchanged when in need of cash. As the conventional Pawning options and Gold Loan offering has limitations to cater to the specific needs, as well as contradict with certain beliefs of the community, a concept acceptable and practiced in the industry is introduced by LOLC’s Alternate Financial Services Unit to its valued customer segment”.

Accordingly, a unique feature has been introduced to the Al-Falaah Wadi’ah Gold Storage facility offering the Customer the benefit of obtaining an interest-free maximum Cash-Advance in the industry at zero mark-up against the gold storage certificate value for any emergencies. In addition, for the convenience of the customers, the Gold storage facility period is extended from 3, 6 and 12 months without any requirement for a deposit and the custodial fees are comparatively competitive. The stored gold articles will also be offered a free Takaful cover with a reassurance of highest safety and security.

The Al-Falaah Wadi’ah gold storage facility will be initially available at selected branches including Wellawatta, Akkaraipattu, Kalmunai, Pottuvil, Grandpass, Maradana, Mawanella, Matara, Nawalapitiya and Negombo. Al-Falaah aims to make the facility available across all LOLC Finance branches and dedicated Al-Falaah centers island-wide by the end of the 1st quarter of 2021.

Commenting on the new Al-Falaah Wadi’ah Gold loan facility, Nishantha Jayasekera, Chief Manager, SME Unit & Head of Gold Loan Business of LOLC Finance said, “The main aim of this facility is to give financial-access to the grass-root level clients who do not have direct access to banking & finance, but require small cash advances to develop daily businesses and self-employment. Through this product and its value added features, we hope to cover all segments of the population”.

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LANKATILES donates high-end ventilator to Colombo North Teaching Hospital

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A Rs. 4.3 million ventilator has been donated to the Coronary Care Unit of the Colombo North Teaching Hospital, Ragama, by LANKATILES, the country’s leading tile manufacturer.

The machine was described as a high-end, world-class piece of equipment suitable for all patient groups.

Present at the official hand-over were Mr Mahendra Jayasekera, Managing Director of Lanka Walltiles PLC and Lanka Tiles PLC, Dr. S. P. A. Liyanage Ranaweera, Director of Colombo North Teaching Hospital, and Dr. Sanjeewa Rajapakse, Consultant Cardiologist of the hospital.

At a time when state-of-the-art equipment is urgently needed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, LANKATILES reaffirmed its commitment to help frontline hospital staff in their efforts at reducing the spread of the virus and easing patient numbers.

The company said this was a commitment it is ready to stand by at all times in the interests of the country.

 

 

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Sampath Bank hosts Central Bank’s ‘MatarataQR’ event to promote QR code use

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Matara, April 3rd, 2021: Sampath Bank PLC recently hosted the Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s (CBSL) MatarataQR event, in a bid to drive 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 the use of QR codes in their day-to-day transactions, the event was held at the Sanath Jayasuriya Grounds in Matara under the patronage of the Chief Guest, Dullas Alahapperuma, Minister of Power and Guest of Honour, D. Kumaratunga, Director – Payments and Settlements, Central Bank of Sri Lanka; along with senior officials from the CBSL, other commercial banks and financial institutions. Sampath Bank was represented by Nanda Fernando – Managing Director; Tharaka Ranwala – Senior DGM – Operations / Group Chief Marketing Officer and Ajith Salgado – Group Chief Information Officer.

At the event, the Bank actively promoted its ‘WePay’ mobile wallet which helped attract more customers while also onboarding new merchants. A 25% cash back was on offer for payments at over 200 merchants in Matara on the day, made via the LANKAQR enabled WePay digital mobile payment app.

“We are very proud to partner with the Central Bank to host this event that will highlight the safety, convenience and speed of getting onboard the LANKAQR payment standard to the people of Matara. These benefits, coupled with the advanced digital banking solutions offered by Sampath Bank, make it a simple choice to migrate to digital payment technology and we warmly invite the merchants in Matara to come experience the benefits of adopting this new method of payments,” said Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC.

Sampath Bank is a 100% local bank that has deeply rooted itself in the lives of the people of Sri Lanka. Established in 1987, the bank has become a state-of-the-art financial institution that continues to be a market leader today thanks to its constant innovation and customer focused approach to business. It has introduced many firsts to the Sri Lankan banking sector including introducing ATMs to Sri Lanka, extended banking hours and slip-less banking to name a few. The Bank is steadily transforming itself into a ‘tech company engaged in banking,’ from the traditional approach of a bank engaged in technology.

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