By Chandeepa Wettasinghe
Interblocks Ltd and Sweden-based West International recently launched an innovative electronic payment processing system aiming at increasing credit and debit card purchases by over tenfold in Sri Lanka through the availability of infrastructure.
“The prediction that we’re making on the market here is that it can easily become tenfold. The 30,000 terminals out there today can increase to 300,000,” West International CEO Sten Karlsson said.
However, the success will depend on if Sri Lankan consumers are willing to convert to more card payments directly instead of drawing money out of banks or ATMs to pay by cash.
Interblocks Ltd CEO Dinesh Rodrigo said that as merchants support Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Diners Club cards depending on their preferences, there is an overlap of systems with just 20,000 merchants in Sri Lanka supporting card payments.
“Ususally, Visa and Mastercard have one terminal, AmEx has a separate one, Diners Club has another and there’s one more in case one of them doesn’t work,” Karlsson added.
West International card terminals have an integrated payment portal for all card systems and support contactless payments in addition to features present in other payment terminals.
Rodrigo said that the sales model is innovative as well, with Interblocks providing the terminals to merchants for free with a flat fee subscription, as opposed to the current practice of banks selling the terminals to the merchants and charging a percentage value of each transaction.
“Right now, merchants have to either buy their terminals, or the banks will give it to them for free in return for a minimum number of transaction volumes. The way we do it, we will reach down to the next levels of merchants,” Rodrigo added.
Karlsson said that West International will sell terminals in units to Interblocks and that Interblocks will start operations with 1,000 terminals.
Founded in 1998, West International is one of the up and coming giants in the industry.
“There are 2 other manufacturers who are by far the largest. We’re the contenders and the disruptors because they don’t innovate. We’re big in Europe and South Africa. This is our first entry into Asia,” Karlsson said.
Sri Lanka-based Interblocks which is a leading provider of electronic payment processing solutions has operations in Sweden which led to the partnership. It will act as the local partner and payment gateway.