Commercial Bank of Ceylon (ComBank) has announced the achievement of several milestones in service delivery in 2016 through operational developments that complemented its stellar financial performance. Sri Lanka’s most profitable private bank according to recently published figures, the bank said its branch expansion programme saw it end 2016 as the largest private bank in the country in terms of physical presence, with 256 branches and an ATM network of 658 terminals, a network that achieved an impressive 99.6 percent uptime during the year. Efforts to expand self-service banking saw Commercial Bank commission five new Automated Banking Centres at which customers can access an extensive list of services entirely on their own.
“We firmly believe that our focus on service delivery, be it via technology or brick and mortar branches, is one of the key pillars of our success and exceptional financial performance,” Commercial Bank Managing Director/CEO Jegan Durairatnam said.
“As a result, we remain the biggest private sector bank in Sri Lanka and amongst the leading organisations that provide customer convenience through technology-based automation.”
Another example of the bank’s investments in automation was the installation of 29 Cash Deposit Machines (CDMs) and 10 Cash Recycler machines in 2016, taking the total number of CDMs to 40. The CDMs completely eliminate the use of paper and are therefore an important step in eco-friendly operations. The Cash Recycler machines are particularly useful to micro and SME entrepreneurs who use of the facility to deposit their daily cash collections even after banking hours. In 2016, the bank launched e-passbook, a mobile phone and tab-based account passbook app that provides online real-time view of the account, for the first time in South Asia and launched Near Field Communication Technology (NFC)-enabled premium credit cards for both Visa and MasterCard.
Commercial Bank also revolutionalised the industry by launching three sector-specific debit cards, Remittance Card for remittance recipients, Ransalu Card for employees of the apparel sector, and Smart Tea Card for the tea procurement sector, each card inclusive of a host of benefits relevant to the respective sectors. In keeping with its investments to enhance the security and customer convenience through technology, all Commercial ATMs were made EMV compliant, which makes cloning infeasible, thereby significantly increasing the security level of the card when transacting. The bank also became the first bank to launch Over The Air (OTP) PIN facility by sending the PIN numbers of its cards via SMS. Combank Max Loyalty rewards also became the first loyalty scheme in the country to reward both credit and debit card holders.
Commercial Bank also enabled the Card-less withdrawal function across its ATM network countrywide in 2016, adding a new level of convenience for its customers. The bank’s ATMs enable automated bill payments to more than 25 institutions in addition to the cash withdrawal facility. The ATM network of the bank penetrates even the most remote areas of the country with state-of-the-art terminals within branches and at off-site locations. Significantly, more than half of Commercial Bank’s ATMs are in off-site locations for easy access by commuters, employees of industrial zones and the public at large. For new branches in buildings it owns, Commercial Bank has developed a new eco-friendly model in yet another initiative to align its operations with the needs of the planet. These custom-built branches are equipped with an eco-friendly architectural design with energy efficient ‘passive features’ such as renewable energy from solar panels and walls with more glazed windows and fixed glass panels for maximum utilisation of natural light, as well as heat gain arresting devices such as shades and fins that facilitate power saving. To date, 10 such green branches have been added to the bank’s network. Taking its commitment to the planet further, Commercial Bank achieved a significant reduction in the use of paper in 2016 by actively promoting the migration of customers from traditional banking channels to digital platforms such as mobile and online banking and its sophisticated ‘e-Passbook.’
The bank’s other environment-related initiatives include programmes to reduce its carbon footprint through energy saving, energy optimisation and responsible fleet and vehicle management, responsible disposal and recycling of materials, responsible water consumption, the discontinuation of the use of products that emit ozone-depleting substances and protecting the biodiversity in areas where branches are present.
Efforts to make branches more accessible to the differently-abled customer segment also made steady progress in 2016, with the bank completing the construction of 190 wheelchair ramps covering 75 percent of its branch network.
In the sphere of financial performance, Commercial Bank ended 2016 with the momentous feat of becoming the first private bank in the country to surpass Rs.1 trillion in assets and had the largest deposits (Rs.739.5 billion) and advances (Rs.633.3 billion) portfolio in the private sector. The bank’s profit after tax of Rs.14.5 billion makes it the most profitable private bank in Sri Lanka.
Commercial Bank’s key financial parameters such as current account to savings account (CASA) ratio, cost to income ratio, net operating income and capital adequacy ratio all recorded outstanding growth making them among the best in the industry. Commercial Bank’s also further improved its international footprint by opening a fully-fledged Tier I bank with a stake of 55 percent in the Maldives in September 2016 and by launching its own money transfer operation ‘Commex’ in Italy. The bank’s other overseas operations encompass Bangladesh, where the bank operates 19 outlets and Myanmar, where it has a representative office in Yangon.
The only Sri Lankan bank to be ranked among the Top 1000 banks of the world for six years consecutively, Commercial Bank swept the board by winning all major international awards in 2016 and has over the years won multiple awards as Sri Lanka’s Best Bank, Best Trade Bank, Strongest Bank and Most Respected Bank from a number of local and international institutions and publications. It has also been adjudged one of Sri Lanka’s 10 best corporate citizens by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce for several years.