The Angel Fund has announced a Rs. 10 million investment in Niftron, a blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) platform that aims to make blockchain simpler and more affordable for businesses at all levels and industries. The Angel Fund was established by the Lanka Angel Network (LAN) with the support of ecosystem development partner Ford Foundation and aims to catalyze the growth of Sri Lanka’s startup ecosystem.
Niftron is one of the first investments made by the Angel Fund since its launch last year. Additionally, Niftron has raised a further Rs. 11 million from Angel Fund investors based out of Singapore, Sri Lanka, UK and USA.
A LAN press release said: Niftron’s platform is especially innovative since it allows anyone to integrate blockchain with their products or projects easily and efficiently to improve trust by providing transparency, security, and ownership. The platform was developed to ensure ease of use, even for those without a complete knowledge of blockchain.
According to Co-Founder and CEO of Niftron, Sharmilan Somasundaram, the company was created to bridge the existing lack of client-side blockchain expertise, which often results in a too long and costly learning curve for companies. Via Niftron’s pay-as-you-go model, companies circumvent additional costs and delays and can integrate easily into any existing or new project/product without changing their own process/flow. Niftron provides all the services that are needed for any type of blockchain project, from secure components for signatures and login, to services to add data, and APIs to access and verify data.
“Based on customer feedback, and analysis, we have found that Niftron reduces blockchain integration and development time by up to 80%, while cost reduction can be as high as 70%. In fact, the whole development with Niftron takes just a few weeks for large enterprise applications to only a few days or less for a small project, which makes business transformation very fast,” said Mr. Somasundaram.
Since its beta release, Niftron has attracted local and international customers, including clients who are developing blockchain-based certificates and document verifications, using the platform for domain name issuing, loyalty points and gift cards, and even nonprofit fundraising and traceability apps. Niftron has also been recognised by X-Hub Tokyo’s Global Startup Accelerator Inbound Programme 2021, Deloitte Japan, as well as Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Technology and Information and Communication Technology Agency (e-Swabhimani Awards).
The Rs. 100 million Angel Fund comprises 100 angel investors, including many high-profile entrepreneurs and corporate leaders, who represent close to 30 industries with proven competencies in over 40 functional domains, along with 20% of its investment from members based out of Canada, Dubai, Hong Kong, Qatar, Singapore, UK, and USA.
LAN Angel Investor, and Founding Partner of Hyperion Ventures, Navid Munas said, “We at Hyperion Ventures are excited at the prospect of working closely with founder-centric companies who are passionate, creative, and dedicated to executing their vision. With the team at Niftron and their BaaS platform, we feel they have the talent and skillset to explore the arena of DeFi and smart contracts which whilst in its infancy now is set to boom into the future. As an industry-agnostic VC, we look forward to the ideas and businesses presented by the next cohort of startups.”
The Angel Fund hosts a quarterly open call for early-stage startups looking for investment. The Investment Committee will be selecting the best startups from the currently-running Cohort 2 on April 28, 2021.
Subsequently, all 100 investors will be meeting virtually on May 4, 2021, to meet the top startups. Cohort 2 includes startups from Fintech, Edtech and, for the first time, Femtech. Applications are currently open for Cohort 3 and will close on April 30, 2021.
Adding to this, LAN Angel Investor, and Director of CeylonAuctions.com, Dr. Rohitha de Silva said, “Scarcity drives value, especially with Blockchain. I’m pleased this journey brought me back home to Sri Lanka. I’m excited to be part of the Angel Fund and looking forward to the next cohort of startups.”
The Rs. 100 million Angel Fund has plans to eventually invest in six to 10 high potential startups in total, gearing them up to scale domestically, and even internationally. It is managed by LAN’s fund management team, which continues to identify and evaluate opportunities for investment across the island, including in traditionally underserved regions. The fund is dedicated to investing in, and mentoring and supporting, early-stage startups across multiple sectors; from making investments at the early stages, to even helping startups identify sources for future funding.
OPPO releases new OPPO A54 in Sri Lanka
OPPO, the leading global smart device brand, announces the launch of OPPO A54 in Sri Lanka.
A54’s attention to design and great usability is evident in both its exquisite appearance and how it helps to capture great looking shots. This starts with the Material of the Rear Cover, which uses metallic material for its 3D panel, but contributes to a stronger and less bendable structure but also a comfortable in-hand feel. As a result, A54 weighs about 192g and is 8.4mm thin. To align the overall look and feel of the phone, close attention is paid to the Middle Frame Process.
“A Series is designed to enhance or complement our users’ lifestyles and OPPO A54 achieves just this with a phone that manages to balance a high-end performance with contemporary design. Its large 5000mAh battery and 18W Fast Charge makes sure you’re fully powered to get you through your day. With A54, you’ll also have enough storage and memory to make sure that you’ll enjoy your entertainment without the frustrations of an underperforming smartphone,” said Bob Li, CEO, XINDA Lanka (OPPO Sri Lanka).
The Rear Cameras itself feature a 13MP Main Camera, 2MP Macro Camera for close range shots, and 2MP Bokehfor brilliant bokeh shots that blur the background and highlight the subject of the photo. A54 enhances shots in all environments with Dazzle Color, balancing the saturation and brightness. A54 also supports filming videos including SLO-MO at 720P at 90FPS with the rear camera, and up to 10 video Filters including Original, Gentle, Noon, Subtle and more.
Pan Asia Bank records best-ever Q1 results in challenging times – Profit After Tax soars by 81% to post Rs. 750 mn.
Pan Asia Banking Corporation PLC reported the best-ever first quarter financial results during the quarter ended 31st March 2021 to report a Pre-Tax Profit of Rs. 986 Mn and a Post-Tax Profit of Rs. 750 Mn after recording impressive growth rates of 51% and 81% respectively, demonstrating the resilience amidst challenging macro economic conditions. The Bank’s performance was characterised by strength and resilience, despite the heightened uncertainty due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 impact on the Sri Lankan economy, the Bank’s Operating Profits before VAT on Financial Services reached Rs. 1,197 Mn with an increase of 47%, reflecting excellence in core banking performance and the success of cost containment measures evidenced by improvement in all key matrices which now rank among the industry bests. This feat was achieved even after setting aside provisions for probable loan losses amounting to Rs. 638 Mn. The Bank increased the provision buffers for probable deterioration in credit quality through management overlays, experience adjustments and adjustments for the exposures in the elevated risk industries during the quarter. As a result, total impairment charges for the quarter increased by 21% on YoY basis.
The Bank’s Net Interest Income for the period witnessed an increase of 17% due to significant reduction in financial cost of funds at a rate faster than the drop in interest yields of interest bearing assets. Consequently, the Bank’s Net Interest Margin for the quarter improved to 5.07% from 4.41% reported three months ago. In the meantime, the Bank’s Net Fee and Commission Income recorded a growth of 28% with the rebound in demand for credit due to revival of economic activity amidst the low interest rate regime. The volatility in foreign exchange rates enabled the Bank to increase its Foreign Exchange Income substantially as reflected in Other Operating Income.
The Bank is committed to revenue maximisation and cost management despite sector vulnerabilities that prevailed since last year. The Bank’s Cost-to-Income Ratio improved from 45.66% to 38.08% within a three months period owing to the excellence in core banking performance which is reflected in the noteworthy overall growth in key revenue lines and various strategies and measures taken to contain overhead costs. In fact, the Bank managed to bring down its Other Operating Expenses by 9% in 2021 Q1 compared to 2020 Q1. Meanwhile, increased allocations for performance bonuses, development of human capital and staff welfare led to an increase in personnel costs during the reporting period compared to 2020 Q1.
The Bank’s Post-Tax Profits for the reporting quarter also gained to an extent due to application of lower corporate income tax rate of 24% for tax provisioning in accordance with the guideline issued by CA Sri Lanka on 23rd April 2021.
The Bank continues to report solid Key Profitability Indicators which rank among the highest in the industry. The Bank’s Pre-Tax Return on Assets also improved to 2.24% from 1.70%. Further, the Bank reported a stunning Return on Equity (ROE) of 19.27% during the quarter under review which stands among the industry best. The ROE is the most important performance indicator to gauge the attractiveness of the Banking sector and Pan Asia Bank during its last few years has consistently remained an outlier in the industry.
SLIIT nurtures school children at ‘Soft Skills + 2021’
The SLIIT Business School (SBS) organised ‘Soft Skills+ 2021’ concluded on an extremely successful note recently helping students engage, cooperate and thrive in building their talents towards personal development and career progression.
SLIIT Soft Skills+ event is an annual flagship CSR Project of the SLIIT Business School organized with the primary objective of developing secondary school students’ soft skills in positive thinking, creativity, analytical thinking, leadership skills, problem-solving skills, communication skills, and teamwork.
Over the years, the programme has garnered much popularity among schools and participants. Due to its tremendous success achieved in previous programmes, Soft Skills+ 2021 followed an upgraded structure. For the first time in the Soft Skills+ programme history, the event was held via online platforms, including a Soft Skills-based online quiz and an online workshop for students and teachers.
During the Grand Finale, Prof. Samantha Thelijjagoda, Dean of SLIIT Business School welcomed the participants and distinguished guests. Prof. Lalith Gamage, Vice Chancellor, SLIIT also addressed the gathering.
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