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iPay appointed as the official LANKA QR acquiring partner of PickMe



iPay appointed the official LANKA QR acquiring partner of PickMe at the LANKAQR Nationwide Rollout Campaign. (From L to R): Director - Payments and Settlements Department of CBSL, Dharmasri Kumaratunge, the Governor of CBSL, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Namal Rajapaksa, Minister of Youth and Sports, Conrad Dias, Director/CEO of LOLC Finance PLC and CEO of PickMe, Zulfer Jiffry.

The LANKAQR Nationwide Rollout Campaign was launched recently at the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) with the aim of promoting LANKAQR payments amongst the small and medium merchants as well as consumers throughout the nation. During this national event, iPay ceremonially launched the fare enablement feature for QR payment acceptance for rides and deliveries carried out through PickMe. iPay partnered with the country’s first and leading ride-hailing app, PickMe, to offer the best of convenience to its customers throughout the nation. Through this partnership of national importance, iPay has enabled LankaQR payments via CASA (Current Accounts, Savings Accounts) to PickMe users. Payments can be made via iPay or any LankaQR enabled app.

The event was held under the patronage of Namal Rajapaksa, Minister of Youth and Sports, Minister of Development Coordination and Monitoring and State Minister of Digital Technology and Entrepreneur Development, participating as the Chief Guest. The event was held on the invitation of the Governor of CBSL, Ajith Nivard Cabraal.

During the event, CBSL facilitated the on-boarding of several government and retail institutions by LANKAQR certified banks so that these institutions may now accept LANKAQR payments from customers. With this nationwide rollout campaign, the CBSL is confident that the general public will utilize LANKAQR for their daily transactions, at a greater frequency.

LankaQR code is the standardized national quick response code introduced to Sri Lanka by the CBSL. It is used as a form factor to represent a merchant accepting payment and will enable the digitalization of the payment ecosystem in Sri Lanka between customers and merchants. Customers can make payments via LankaQR by simply scanning the code presented by a merchant, using any digital payment app which adheres to the LankaQR standard. The LankaQR technical specifications are issued by the CBSL, while its operating guidelines as well as its branding guidelines are issued by LankaClear (Pvt) Ltd, with prior approval from the CBSL.

Commenting about the LANKAQR Nationwide Rollout Campaign, Conrad Dias, Director/CEO of LOLC Finance PLC said, “In the current context of the global pandemic, it is imperative to reduce the usage of cash than ever before and move towards digital payment methods – hence this initiative is extremely timely. As a leading and responsible payment aggregator in Sri Lanka, iPay is dedicated to support this transformation on a national scale and the partnership with PickMe is a testament to that promise. Backed by LOLC, Sri Lanka’s most valuable and globally diversified financial conglomerate, we will continue our efforts to propel this national cause”.

CEO of PickMe, Mr. Zulfer Jiffry noted that most card transactions result in a percentage going to a foreign company that facilitates the payment platform, even if the transaction is carried out locally. “LankaQR transactions are facilitated locally in Sri Lanka Rupees which prevents dollar outflow at a time when we need to preserve our foreign exchange. This is why we considered it important to introduce this platform to our partners and customers at this crucial time, collaborating with iPay. As a registered Sri Lankan company, we support this initiative and hope to make our customers aware that every time they do transactions which culminate outside the country, it only helps the current crisis to become bigger.”

iPay is a simple, easy to use, real-time payment platform built on an architecture that allows easy integration with any system. It has been designed with a host of features, giving the user a unique, one of a kind transaction experience. The vibrant and well-organized graphical user interface of iPay promises a unique experience whilst carrying out various types of payments. LOLC Finance currently operates as iPay’s merchant acquiring partner.

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Seven factors of concern at upcoming Monetary Policy Review



by Sanath Nanayakkare

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) is scheduled to announce its latest monetary policy review on 20th January 2022, with all eyes on dwindling foreign reserves and foreign currency exchange in the country.

In this context, First Capital Research has named 7 factors of concern that could be taken into account at the upcoming monetary policy review. They are as follows.

* Foreign Reserves USD 3.1 billion – Dec 2021

* Inflation CCPI 12.1% – Dec 2021

* GDP Growth -1.5% – 3Q2021

* Private Credit LKR 60.5 billion – Nov 2021

* 03M T-Bill rate 8.38% as at 12.01.22

Liquidity and CBSL Holdings LKR -364.0 billion and LKR 1.42 trillion

Balance of Trade (BOT) and Balance of Payment (BOP) USD -6.5 billion and USD -3.3 billion for Jan-Oct 21

First Capital Research’s Policy Rate Forecast – Jan 2022-Apr 2022 notes that they believe the CBSL may highly consider tightening the monetary policy rates in this policy review but given the concerns over economic growth, there is a probability of 40% for CBSL to maintain its policy stance at current levels.

“With high frequent indicators improving in line with expectations, we have eliminated any probability of a rate cut. We expect a continued increase in probability for a rate hike in order to prevent overheating of the economy amidst the given fiscal and monetary stimulus,” they said.

As per First Capital’s view, CBSL either can choose to hike policy rates by 50bps or 100bps or hold policy rates steady, while a rate cut is off the table due to the high debt repayment and the high domestic borrowing requirement.

First Capital believes that there is a 60% probability for a rate hike due to the remedial actions required in achieving external stability.

However, there is also a 40% probability to maintain the policy rates at its current level in order to further improve the high frequency indicators.30%, they noted.

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Sri Lanka’s dash brand enters international markets



Multichemi International Ltd, which manufactures and distributes a wide range of products under dash, one of Sri Lanka’s leading detergent and household care brands, has begun exporting its products to several international markets in Asia and Oceania, with plans also to enter Africa. The dash brand includes a wide range of products in car care, household care, home fragrances and laundry care sectors. Multichemi International Ltd, which has been awarded ISO 9001:2015 certification, is a Sri Lankan pioneer in environment-friendly cleaning products, having launched the country’s first biodegradable, safe cleaning products over 28 years ago.

Amila Wijesinghe, General Manager of the Company said,”Having conquered the domestic market, we are now ready to capture the international market. We are confident that our products which are of high quality will receive a good demand overseas as well. The feedback we have received so far from our overseas customers is extremely encouraging. We are dedicated to taking our products to the international market, to bring in foreign currency to the country and help uplift the economy”,

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Janaka Abeysinghe appointed SLT CEO



Sri Lanka Telecom PLC has announced the appointment of Janaka Abeysinghe as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with effect from February 1, 2022.

The incumbent CEO Kiththi Perera will be overseas on leave for a period of two years to pursue higher studies, according to a stock market filing by the company.

Abeysinghe joined SLT in 1991. In his present role, he leads the enterprise and wholesale business of SLT that provides integrated voice and data solutions to enterprises, government institutions, domestic telco operators and global wholesale carriers.

In his career at SLT spanning 29 years, he has held a number of senior positions, including general manager Enterprise and International Sales and has extensive experience in the areas of Enterprise Digital Services, Enterprise Communications Solutions, Data Communications, Business Development, Domestic and International Switching Operations and Global Wholesale Voice & Data Business.

He holds a Master’s Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Kansas, USA and a BSc degree in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering with a First Class Honours from the University of Moratuwa.

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