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.
Softlogic Life’s FY22 results grows to LKR 23 Bn GWP amidst tough macroeconomic challenges
Softlogic Life recorded a superior full year performance in a crisis-affected business landscape, posting Gross Written Premium (GWP) of Rs. 23,083 million for the year ended 31 December 2022 with an increase in top-line growth of 15% compared to the corresponding period of last year. The Company has stood firmly with its policyholders in the face of the tough macroeconomic conditions, paying claims of Rs 8,264 million for the period.
During the period in review, Softlogic Life’s market share is at 16.87%, in comparison to 16.08% as of 31 December 2021. The market share increase continues to rank Softlogic Life as the second-largest in the life insurance market, overtaking much older players to establish strong growth momentum. Compared to the estimated Industry GWP growth, which was 9.6% during 2022, Softlogic Life recorded GWP growth of 15%.
The company reported a 10-year Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 28% of GWP, while the industry 10-year GWP CAGR growth was at 14%. Softlogic Life also notes that its contribution to increasing insurance penetration in the country has increased during the period in review with 133,872 policies issued, insuring more than 1.5 million Sri Lankan lives.
Profit after tax (PAT) for the period in review rose to Rs. 2,683 million, an increase of 27% YoY. Profit before tax (PBT) grew by 36% compared to last year at growth of Rs. 1,065 million. The company’s operating expense ratio remained at 22% irrespective of the inflation hike during 2022 as a result of prudent and efficient expense management initiatives adopted. Furthermore, Softlogic Life maintained a healthy Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) of 287%, well above the regulatory CAR requirement of 120%.
The company recorded impressive Return on Equity of 25% and Earning per share of LKR 7.15 after providing one off provision for impairment. Recurring Earning per share for the year 2022 increased to LKR 12.85 from LKR 5.61 per share.
Commenting on the financial performance of the Company, Ashok Pathirage, Chairman of Softlogic Life Insurance PLC, stated, “Despite numerous challenges in a tough business landscape, we have performed well to maintain our position as the second-largest life insurance company in Sri Lanka, growing our market share further to 16.87% by the end of 2022. These accomplishments were facilitated by the strategies we deployed and the strong execution of those strategies that have enabled the Company to sustain momentum in spite of the prevailing macro challenges.”
Since its inception, Softlogic Life has been striving to improve the quality of life of Sri Lankans through relevant disruptive innovations and digitalization. Industry-first innovations such as one-day automated claims settlement, hospitalization claim settlement, 100% digitalized sales platform, automatic policy issuance and mobile based micro products has helped the company to deliver a superior customer experience, which has been instrumental in enhancing its competitive position.
Foreign investors bullish and local counterparts bearish at CSE; year-to-date net foreign inflows hit Rs. 2 billion
By Hiran H. Senewiratne
Foreigners remained bullish on Sri Lanka’s listed equities as year-to-date net foreign inflows crossed the Rs. 2 billion mark, while local investors appeared bearish at the CSE yesterday.
JKH was the major driver for foreign inflows to reach more than Rs two billion, without any specific reason, since last week, market analysts said. However, shares fell in mid-day trade over the need for further positivity on the International Monetary Fund loan being secured, an analyst said.
Both indices moved downwards. The ASPI fell by 125.28 points, while the most liquid S&P SL20 fell 43.82 points. Turnover stood at Rs 2.2 billion with four crossings. Those crossings reported in Lanka Tiles, which crossed 1.2 million shares to the tune of Rs 54 million, its shares traded at Rs 45, JKH 300,000 shares crossed for Rs 43.65 million, its shares traded at Rs 145.50, HNB 468,000 shares crossed to the tune of Rs 43.3 million, its shares traded at Rs. 92.50 and Chevron Lubricants 200,000 shares crossed for Rs 24.1 million, its shares fetched Rs 107.
In the retail market, seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, JKH Rs 721 million (4.9 million shares traded), Aitken Spence Rs 302 million (two million shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 126 million (664,000 shares traded), Softlogic Capital PLC Rs 91 million (5.6 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 82.1 million (13.5 million shares traded), Softlogic Life Insurance Rs 63.3 million (512,000 shares traded) and Tokyo Cement (Non- Voting) Rs 49.1 million (1.45 million shares traded). During the day 56.2 million share volumes changed hands in 14000 transactions.
“The overall market was pulled down because the market ran on banking shares in the past sessions, but news on domestic debt restructuring moved the market into the red yesterday, an analyst said.
Any domestic debt restructuring will be part of a negotiation process with creditors, which will take place after a program with the International Monetary Fund is in place, Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe said.
First, financial assurances from bi-lateral creditors have to be received to qualify for the IMF program.
It is said high net worth and institutional investor participation was noted in Expolanka Holdings, JKH and Sampath Bank. Mixed interest was observed in Aitken Spence, Sri Lanka Telecom and Lanka IOC, while retail interest was noted in Browns Investments, LOLC Finance and Ex-Pack Corrugated Cartons.
It said the Capital Goods sector was the top contributor to the market turnover (due to JKH and Aitken Spence), while the sector index gained 0.19 per cent. The share price of JKH gained 75 cents to reach Rs. 145.50. The share price of Aitken Spence closed flat at Rs. 150.
The Transportation sector was the second highest contributor to the market turnover (due to Expolanka Holdings), while the sector index increased by 1.02 per cent. The share price of Expolanka Holdings increased by Rs. 2 to Rs. 194.
Yesterday, the Central Bank announced the US dollar buying rate as Rs 359.99 and selling rate as Rs 370.18.
Japanese State Minister of Foreign Affairs visits Port of Colombo
Japanese State Minister of Foreign Affairs TAKEI Shunsuke visited the Port of Colombo to learn about the ongoing developments in the Port of Colombo. The visit took place on 03rd February 2023. During the visit the Japanese State Minister of Foreign Affairs also met with the Chairman of Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) – Keith D. Bernard and other higher officials at the main control tower of the Port.
The Chairman of SLPA explained to the Japanese state minister of foreign affairs of the progress of the developments of the East Container Terminal (ECT), the West Container Terminal and the North Port Development Project. The SLPA Chairman thanked the Japanese Government and the people of Japan for the invaluable support extended by them for development of Port sector in Sri Lanka, particularly towards the Jaya Container Terminal and the developments at the Port of Trincomalee.
The high level Japanese delegation at the Port of Colombo also comprised MIZUKOSHI Hideaki – Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka, TUTSUMI Tarou – Director, Southwest Asian Division, ANDO Toshiaki – Executive Assistant to the state minister of foreign affairs, TOKITA Yuji – director, second country assistance planning department, IWASE Kichiro – assistant to minister /director-general Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department, MATSUYAMA Miina – third secretary, Embassy of Japan in India, KATSUKI Kotaro – Minister Embassy of Japan in Sri Lanka and OZAKI Takeshi, first secretary – Embassy of Japan in Sri Lanka.
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