As one of Sri Lanka’s leading commercial banks, Sampath Bank has made an indelible mark within the country’s financial services industry and is now a trusted name among Sri Lankans.
Its current aspiration is to transform Sri Lanka’s banking landscape with the concept of a ‘cashless society’ and in line with this, the Bank has introduced its latest product – ‘Sampath MY Bank’, in a move to seamlessly transition from traditional brick and mortar branches and offer its customers ultimate ease and convenience in banking.
Sampath Bank Chief Operating Officer Nanda Fernando explains what this product comprises of, how it will benefit Sri Lankans and how it will assist in promoting financial inclusion across the country:
Could you explain what Sampath MY Bankis and what it will offer?
This product was launched by Sampath Bank very recently to provide financial services at affordable costs, in order to make banking truly accessible to any Sri Lankan, from people in cities to disadvantaged communities and the lower-income segments of society. Simply put, this product will enable an individual to open an account without even having to visit a bank. This will be made possible through an active network of trusted Merchants island-wide appointed by the Bank – an individual will be able to walk into any Merchant outlet and obtain all the services provided by the Sampath MY Bank accounts.
This will do away with the need for actually visiting a bank. While this may not seem like a hassle in the bigger cities, in more rural areas, visiting a Bank can be a time-consuming and expensive task for people. As a start, the Sampath MY Bank account will offer four services – opening of an account, cash deposits, cash withdrawal and balance inquiry.
What is required by a customer who wishes to open one of these accounts?
A person simply needs to give his or her mobile number and NIC number to open an account. They need to visit one of our appointed Merchants, who will be equipped with a POS terminal provided by us. The Merchant will do the needful and open the account via the POS terminal. A few minutes after opening the account, the customer will be able to deposit cash into the account, and thereafter, use the card to withdraw cash or purchase goods and services from the appointed Merchants.
As the promotional period, the MY Bank card will be issued free of charge and the initial deposit will be a minimum of Rs. 50. The card issued will store the funds deposited and be a non-interest bearing account similar to a prepaid phone card. While we have currently launched this product with 12Merchants approved by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, we are looking to expand our Merchant network throughout the island.
Initially, there will be limitations on deposits and maximum balance in accounts. Deposits are limited to Rs. 5,000per account per day. Further, when the customer accumulates up to Rs. 100,000, the Bank will intervene to guide the customer to open a regular interest-bearing savings account, while continuing the Sampath MY Bank account as well.
What was Sampath Bank’s objective in launching such a product?
Our objective is to ensure that every Sri Lankan will have access to opening and managing a bank account, opening up avenues within the banking system for them. Currently, the percentage of account holders in the country is quite low, especially in outstation areas. Our target audience with this product are the unbanked and underbanked segments of society. We want to encourage people even in villages to get into the habit of saving in order to be able to service a loan facility and to enable parents to open accounts for their children.
The biggest advantage with Sampath MY Bank accounts is that through the Merchant network, people will be able to carry out transactions even after the usual banking hours, as these Merchants being super stores or small shops, have extended operating hours much more than traditional Banking hours and are open 365 days a year. It will also empower the Merchants themselves, by way of increasing the number of walk-in customers.
Although in this initial phase, the product is limited to just four services, the overall plan for the product consists of 20 features, which will be rolled out in stages.
Why is financial inclusion vital for our economy?
It is important for two reasons. Firstly, from the viewpoint of the Lankan population, it is necessary that they have access to creating an account as financial saving is essential for personal stability and growth. Secondly, savings are a huge benefit to the economy, especially in a country such as ours – currently, the accumulation of savings is not sufficient. To increase these numbers, people need to have a bank account and a product like this is the ideal mechanism to encourage them to do so. Customers will be able to deposit their daily profits, avoid unnecessary expenditure, record monthly turnover and really start saving.