Efforts to move Sri Lanka towards a cashless society had been hindered by slow absorption of technology by the public, banks and vendors in the past
- Efforts to be rolled out using existing channels
- New focus on getting merchants onboard digital payment apps
- Central Bank gives nod to onboard merchants digitally
- Merchants required to call LankaClear hotline to register
By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
The banking and financial services industry will kick off a number of efforts starting this week to push the country towards embracing digital transaction methods, a decision that was collectively taken by the sector together with the Central Bank to allow citizens to have easy and improved access to goods and services during curfew.
Speaking to Mirror Business, LankaClear CEO Channa de Silva said the effort will be rolled out using the existing channels that are already in place as the relevant stakeholders are unable to opt for new methods given the strict controls imposed by the government to contain coronavirus (COVID-19) spread in the country.
“Banks are stepping up efforts to push digital transactions. That is the new focus and the way forward. We find this as the most practical way forward as we are unsure when we as a country will come out of this.
“The banks will kick off full-blown campaigns starting this week and will continue to do so for the next three months. They are in full gear,” de Silva said.
The national payment infrastructure chief shared that a decision was taken earlier this week by the industry players to capitalize on the 15 payment apps that are already available and for that the focus is on getting the small-time merchants across the island onboard the platform.
While merchants were previously required to visit the banks to register, starting this week the Central Bank will allow banks and financial institutions to carry out the onboarding processes digitally.
LankaClear will coordinate the effort as per Central Bank advice.
De Silva said a hotline is being set up for the merchants to call. The merchants will then be instructed of the steps required to be taken from the smartphone to register with the desired digital/mobile payment platform.
According to him, the proposed solution and the way forward was framed on reaping the benefits of the smartphone penetration the country enjoys, which is 52 “This is the time people are desperate and the migration of cash to digital will be the best option. Once they get used to this new and easy way of purchasing, people will move away from cash transaction.
If we are successful in this, we will go a long way in getting people onboard,” de Silva said.