With great crises comes even greater opportunity for growth, as witnessed in Sri Lanka over the last two months alone. As the country cautiously emerges from the crippling fuel crisis of July, many attribute the quick adoption of the National Fuel Pass QR code system for easing the situation. In a landmark move towards increased digital maturity by the Ministry of Power and Energy -under the leadership of Minister, Kanchana Wijesekera-, on August 1, 2022 Sri Lanka officially commenced the total implementation of the QR code system for fuel rationing for all motorists; simultaneously negating other ineffective manual systems which attempted to overcome the critical challenge previously.
As of September 19, a total of 6,272,385 consumers across the country had registered to receive fuel in this way, with 34,444,886 transactions made island-wide during the seven week period since inception – testament to not just the capacity to problem-solve, but also the practicality, efficiency, and convenience technological platforms can bring.Credit is also due to MillenniumIT ESP, a member of the Digital Services chapter of FITIS, for the successful implementation of the National fuel pass in partnership with Dialog who is a member of the Communication chapter of FITIS, a news release issued on the QR code system said.
‘’Of the nine million smart phone users in Sri Lanka – of which 7.9 million are on social media, six million consumers to date have signed up for the QR code fuel pass system. The success of the system has been reflected in the easing of fuel queues and an increase in accountability at stations, but is also vindication for those calling for increased national tech literacy in a fast-evolving global digital landscape,’’ the release said.
“While QR codes have been put to use previously (in national efforts to contact trace during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and LankaQR, for instance), this has been its most successful implementation since.”
It explained that when compared to other Asia Pacific emerging markets, Sri Lanka has proven to exhibit strength in connectivity, digital marketing, investment in digital initiatives, as well as the ability to adopt quickly. Market digital transformation in Sri Lanka has been recorded at 36% of the country’s total population, in comparison to India and Bangladesh which has been recorded at around 29% and 28% respectively.
‘’In fact, according to a 2018 McKinsey report titled “Unlocking Sri Lanka’s Digital Capacity,” in an analysis of about 50 Sri Lankan companies across multiple industries, it was found that the country’s overall Digital Quotient score of 35 places it slightly higher than the global median of 33. However, Sri Lanka still lags behind when placed individually against more developed countries, though holding the potential to come up to par with its global counterparts,’’ the release said.
It added that another indication is the country’s quick adoption and move towards cashless, online payment platforms over the past few years. For example, solely through the JustPay (by LankaPay – a member of the Digital Services Chapter of FITIS) payment platform, and in the last 12 months alone, an approximate 13 million transactions have been recorded, together carrying a hefty value totalling LKR 55 billion.
“Other locally implemented digital payment platforms such as WEBXPAY, Orel Pay, PayHere, HelaPay, FriMi, IPay and PayMaster, all members of the Digital Services Chapter of FITIS, have facilitated considerable ease, flexibility, and acceleration in transactions to the country’s citizens by positively transforming the way in which we make and receive payments. Additionally, the endorsement of ride-hailing and grocery-buying apps such as Pickme also attest to the country’s digital readiness,’’ the release said.
“There are various other tech platforms built locally that could make us more efficient and save us time to best use them on most productive activities that could directly contribute towards building a better country for our future generation,” said the Vice president Mr. Omar Sahib Digital Services of FITIS.
The proven capacity of Sri Lanka’s citizens to move forward digitally should form the basis of incentive towards greater digital priorities. However, it is not enough that we merely create platforms that promote digital citizenry. National efforts should also synchronously be taken to explore new approaches and solutions, lay down enabling protective frameworks, and also provide incentives to encourage digital prioritisation across both private and government sectors, the release said.
The Federation of Information Technology Industry Sri Lanka (FITIS) was set up in 1996 with purpose of giving a much-needed focal point for ICT industry in Sri Lanka. Today, FITIS is the apex body of ICT industry in the country covering all major industry segments as Hardware Chapter, Software Chapter, Education Training Chapter, Communication Chapter, Digital Service Chapter, Professional Chapter, Office Automation Chapter and Professional Consultants Chapter.
HSBC appoints new Country Head of Wholesale Banking for Sri Lanka and Maldives
HSBC Sri Lanka has appointed Kevin Green as the new Country Head of Wholesale Banking for Sri Lanka and Maldives with effect from 1 November 2022.Kevin has been with the HSBC Group for over 24 years and has held several senior positions in commercial banking, retail banking and risk management.
Prior to taking on his new role, Kevin was the Country Head of Wholesale Banking in HSBC Bangladesh, and prior to that he was the Chief Risk Officer for HSBC Vietnam.Kevin will lead the bank’s Wholesale Banking business in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, supporting corporate banking clients. He will lead a dynamic team of professionals to provide tailored solutions and services to customers and ensure the continued growth of the business.
Kevin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from the University of Warwick and a Bachelor’s Degree in Financial Services from the University of Manchester. He is also an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers.
Commenting on the appointment, Mark Surgenor, Chief Executive Officer for HSBC Sri Lanka and Maldives, said “As the leading international bank in Sri Lanka and with a presence in 63 markets globally, we want to open up a world of opportunity for our internationally minded clients. Therefore, I am pleased to bring in an experienced leader like Kevin to lead our Wholesale Banking operations in Sri Lanka and the Maldives. This is further evidence of our commitment to invest in the country and to support our clients. I am confident that Kevin’s extensive experience with HSBC Group will be an advantage to both our clients and colleagues, and further support the banks efforts towards economic growth of the country.”
HSBC, as the leading international bank has enjoyed a longstanding presence in Sri Lanka having completed 130 years of operations this year. The bank will continue to support Sri Lankan clients to connect globally and will continue to play a key role in supporting local businesses looking to expand across international markets by leveraging its global footprint and expertise in international trade, global payment services, sustainable finance and other financial services, whilst supporting its people and communities.
HSBC was recognised with the Sri Lanka International Initiative of the Year, won by Wholesale Banking for the dynamism, uniqueness, effectiveness & impact in green financing, for its first corporate ‘Green Loan’ for USD 6.3mn to Eco Spindles that was awarded by Asian Banking & Finance, this year. The bank was also named Best International Bank in Sri Lanka by Asiamoney, International Retail Bank of the Year by Asian Banking and Finance and Best Consumer Digital Bank in Sri Lanka by Global Finance for 2022.
Sri Lanka Red Cross Society launches ‘Elixir’ to match donation in aid of medical requirements
The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society launched Sri Lanka’s first-ever medical-supply-to-donation matching platform on October 19, 2022, called the Elixir Platform. The initiative is a volunteer-run, private-public-private partnership under the aegis of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society, and allows hospitals and treatment centres from across Sri Lanka to register their requirements for lifesaving medicines and medical supplies that may be in short supply, due to the country’s ongoing economic and foreign exchange crises. ‘Elixir’ also provides a single streamlined interface for donors who would like to support Sri Lanka at this time. By having all requirements and donations coming in via a unified and seamless platform, ‘Elixir’ can then match requirements and donations for efficient use of funds and time, while also reducing the total turnaround time for assistance and increasing transparency.
Designed and operated by the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society, together with its global network of volunteers and professionals, and in partnership with the Sri Lanka Medical Supplies Division of the Ministry of Health, the Elixir Platform is a huge collaborative undertaking to help Sri Lanka overcome the shortage of lifesaving medicines due to the present economic crisis.
Discussing the initiative, Dr Mahesh Gunasekara, Director General of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society said, “First, we must express our sincere gratitude to all the donors, including individuals, corporations and governments, who have come to Sri Lanka’s aid at this time of need. With a large number of donations, we found that it was becoming challenging to track and fulfil medical needs across the system and prioritize based on urgency. Other challenges including oversupply due to duplicative efforts, high costs due to not utilizing economies of scale, internal competition for donations and other issues have arisen, along with a lack of transparency. Thus, ‘Elixir’ is our answer to these problems, and will facilitate transparency and accountability throughout the entire supply chain for the benefit of all stakeholders. On behalf of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society, I take this opportunity to thank all volunteers and partners in this endeavour. Elixir is truly a landmark achievement and we look forward to supporting Sri Lanka as it overcomes its present challenges.”
Seylan World Mastercard cardholder offers
Marking its most recent effort to reward its loyal customers, Seylan Cards recently announced the launch of an exclusive promotion for the benefit of all Seylan World Mastercard cardholders.
One lucky Seylan World Mastercard cardholder will receive an Omega timepiece worth over Rs. 2 million at the end of the promotion period. Founded in 1848, Omega is a Swiss watch brand synonymous with excellence, innovation and precision. Given that the brand’s history has been dedicated to a quest for perfection, such a prize is expected to appeal to the elite Seylan World Mastercard cardholders. In order to stand a chance to win, cardholders must spend a cumulative total of Rs. 1 million during the promotion period until the 15th of December 2022.
As the festive season approaches, Seylan Cards has aptly timed this promotion in an effort to reward cardholders as they complete their Christmas shopping lists. Since both local and international spends are valid for the draw, cardholders travelling overseas could purchase their air tickets and shop overseas to benefit from current exchange rates.
Cardholders are also encouraged to utilise their Seylan World Mastercard card for high value spends on items such as jewellery or even solar power installations to reach the Rs. 1 million threshold to enter the draw.
As Seylan World Mastercard cards are limited to an exclusive number of members, the chances of winning the luxury timepiece are much higher, and is a unique opportunity that should not be missed.As the essential card for essential needs, several merchants offer Seylan Cardholders special discounts and easy payment facilities with 0% interest. Anyone interested in obtaining a Seylan Card is encouraged to call the hotline on 011 2008 888.
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