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Sri Lanka’s Niftron raises Rs. 21 million capital from LAN’s Angel Fund

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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.



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HNB supports Sri Lanka Welfare Society of Blind Women

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Supporting the livelihoods of visually impaired women, Sri Lanka’s most customer friendly bank HNB PLC donated 300 white canes and dry ration packs to the members of the Sri Lanka Welfare Society of the Blind Women.

The donations made utilizing voluntary contributions gathered by HNB employees, were handed over to members of the Society at a special event at HNB Towers under the patronage of HNB Managing Director and CEO Jonathan Alles.

“HNB is proud to partner with the Sri Lanka Welfare Society of the Blind Women to serve the visually impaired women of the country. Our goal is to do our part in ensuring they are given opportunities, recognition and respect that are equal to every other citizen, and we hope that partnerships of this nature will pave the way for a more inclusive and caring society,” HNB Managing Director and CEO, Jonathan Alles said.

With 252 customer centres across the country, HNB is one of Sri Lanka’s largest, most technologically innovative banks, having won local and global recognition for its efforts to drive forward a new paradigm in digital banking. Over the recent past, the bank was ranked among the World Top 1,000 Banks list compiled by the prestigious UK-based Banker Magazine. HNB has a national rating of AA- (lka) by Fitch Ratings (Lanka) Ltd.

HNB was also declared Best Sub-Custodian Bank in Sri Lanka at the Global Finance Awards 2020, in addition to winning the coveted Best Retail Bank in Sri Lanka Award for the 11th time at the Asian Banker Awards 2020, in recognition of its sustainable growth and continuous improvements in processes, products and services amidst a challenging macroeconomic environment.

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People’s Insurance enters Medical Insurance market with ‘the most comprehensive medical insurance cover available in Sri Lanka’

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In an unprecedented effort to enhance its product offerings to customers across Sri Lanka, People’s Insurance PLC recently announced its plans to diversify into the health insurance space of the country. This strategic move to establish its presence as a health insurance provider builds on the well-established public image of People’s Insurance as the insurer who cares with love.

As the market is already heavily saturated with health insurance products offered by the competition, Peoples Insurance had the strategic objective of offering a product to make them stand out from the rest. Following a customer first approach, the insurer has decided to be a step above its competitors by offering a highly comprehensive medical insurance cover available in the country.

Citizens of Sri Lanka and those individuals who currently reside in the country are eligible to obtain a medical insurance cover from People’s Insurance. Individuals can be covered from their 5th birthday onwards. However, infants from the age of 3 months can also be protected by these covers provided that their parents have a medical cover from People’s Insurance too.

Jeevani Kariyawasam, the Head of Operations at People’s Insurance PLC commented on this new development, “When People’s Insurance PLC began to contemplate our entry into the health insurance sector, we knew we had to be different. As we are known as the only insurer who cares with love, our health insurance product had to reflect this strongly. Due to this, we decided to position ourselves as an insurance provider with a highly comprehensive product in the health insurance space. With affordable premiums, we have made every effort to ensure that Sri Lankans can enjoy the peace of mind that health insurance brings about.”

Medical schemes will vary from Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 2 million and premiums will depend on the sum insured, along with the customer’s age band. It is also noteworthy that the geographical scope of treatment extends beyond Sri Lanka and into India as well. Costs related to ambulance call outs, inpatient proceedings, surgical treatments, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and pre and post hospitalization expenses are just a few of the areas that this comprehensive product covers.

As People’s Insurance PLC has a trusted and well established name in the minds of Sri Lankan customers, it is expected that their entrance into the medical insurance sector will be welcomed by citizens across the island. With the underlying goal of caring for its customers beyond anything else, this new development will allow for more Sri Lankans access to proper healthcare services. This decision truly resonates with a purpose beyond profit initiative.

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Browns Investments purchases 9.9 percent stake in HNB, boosting market

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By Hiran H. Senewiratne

CSE activities were positive but not bullish yesterday. Besides, the CSE announcement on a transaction where Browns Investments purchased a 9.9% stake in HNB plus last minute buying interest brought a positive note to the stock market, analysts said. Browns Investments bought 42 million HNB shares in the price range of Rs. 125.75 and Rs. 132.25 for RS 5.3 billion.

This quantum of shares or 9.9 % percent stake of HNB purchased by Brown Investments happened during the months of April and May, market sources said. Amid those developments both indices were positive. All Share Price Index was up by 45.85 points. Turnover stood at Rs. 890.3 million with a single crossing. The crossing is from Sampath Bank which crossed 500000 shares to the tune of RS 26 million and its shares traded at Rs. 52.

In the retail market, top five companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, J K H RS 189 million (1.4 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs. 181 million (27.8 million shares traded),Expo Lanka Rs. 53.8 million (1.2 million shares traded), Sampath Bank 50.2 million (1 million shares traded)and Royal ceramic Rs. 47.3 million (1.4 million shares traded). During the day 74.2 million share volume changed hands in 10600 transactions.

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