To connect all commercial banks directly to SL Customs
Payments to be realized on real-time basis
Will ensure efficiency, transparency and speed of work
By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
The local trade and business landscape will see greater transparency with the implementation of a fully-fledged online payment platform for Sri Lanka Customs that will be launched today.
Based on a request from t he Central Bank and with the approval from the Monetary Board, the online payment platform is being implemented by LankaClear, Sri Lanka’s largest payment infrastructure provider, to facilitate the payments of Customs declarations. Although the platform was proposed in early 2016, the project was stalled due to debate between political parties on the selection of the implementing agency. The delayed project picked up pace following the new leadership at the Finance Ministry. The initiative is being executed under the direction of Finance State Minister Eran Wickramaratne.
Speaking to Mirror Business, Wickramaratne pointed out that the launch of the online payment platform would increase efficiency, transparency and speed of work of the agencies involved.
“By using ICT you take away human interventions and reduce the possibility of corruption. This will be an obvious advantage with the implementation of the new online payment platform,” he opined.
The objective of the initiative is to pave the way for all the banks to be connected to the Customs. The new platform will extend the payment services to customers of all commercial banks through their own respective banks. Currently it is restricted to be carried out only via the two state banks, Bank of Ceylon (BOC) and People’s Bank.
The platform has been designed to communicate with SL Custom’s ASYCUDA system on one side while the same payment platform will also be the front end for participating banks to liaise with the SL Customs Department.
Customers will be able to directly connect to their respective banks via any channel, such as ATM or over the counter (OTC), to make the required payment to the Customs.
Furthermore, payments will be credited in real time on a 24 x 7 x 365 basis, using the Common Electronic Fund Transfer Switch (CEFTS) to the designated Customs’ bank accounts at BOC and People’s Bank.
It was shared that LankaClear would provide Sri Lanka Customs with the required payment confirmation details, reports and other requirements that have been agreed upon mutually for reconciliation purposes.
Wickramaratne assured that the settlement of the payments among BOC, People’s Bank and other commercial banks would be through Central Bank’s Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS), which is under the direct regulation and supervision of the monetary watchdog.
With the interbank net settlement system being carried out by the RTGS, it was stressed that all banks must maintain a RTGS accounts with the Central Bank. Non- banking financial institutes that connect to LankaClear must partner with a primary bank who maintains a RTGS account at the Central Bank to facilitate the net settlement.
Moreover, in view of several start-up fintech initiatives supported by the Central Bank, the state minister stressed it has become necessary for the Central Bank to formulate, adopt and monitor the implementation of a payment system policy for Sri Lanka under Section 5 of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act.