Following the directive of the Central Bank to lift the maximum interest rate cap on credit cards, Pan Asia Bank DGM Marketing and Personal Banking Nalaka Wijayawardana shared his views on the way forward for Pan Asia Bank credit cards and how the bank plans to fulfill the role as the ‘Understanding Bank’ in midst of the recent developments.
Could you tell us more about the journey Pan Asia Bank has embarked on over the last 2 decades?
Within a short span of two years, we have successfully established ourselves in the hearts of our customers as a bank that understands their true needs. Further solidifying this perception Pan Asia Bank in 2015 decided to change its brand promise to be the ‘Understanding Bank’. Staying true to this promise, we have been able to understand and anticipate the needs of our valued customers and provide innovative solutions to meet their requirements in all spheres of banking.
How has your product development strategy contributed towards the bank’s overall brand promise?
In view of understanding the customer needs, we have come up with many a novel product such as ‘Sammana’, a loan scheme for retired pensioners, ‘Suwasavi’ a deposit product providing a free family medical insurance cover and the ‘Champions saver’ deposit scheme that provides the flexibility of a savings account and gives the high interest rates of a Fixed Deposit. In future also, we will continue to focus on developing new products to meet the customer needs.
Your retail products have indeed been highly successful pertaining to the objective of establishing your bank as the “Understanding Bank”. How successful have your credit card facilities been in achieving this?
Pan Asia Bank currently offers three different credit card types catering to different segments in the market and we pride ourselves as a bank offering some of the lowest industry interest rates ranging from 19.75 percent for Pan Asia Black MasterCard, 21.75 percent for Pan Asia Gold MasterCard and 24.00 percent for Pan Asia World MasterCard. This low interest proposition has been well accepted by the market and our market share has grown substantially from being less than 0.5 percent in 2013 to around 4.0 percent in the current quarter. These figures showcase how successful we have been in overcoming the challenges presented to us as a midsized bank operating in a highly competitive industry. Instead of being limited by these challenges, we have capitalized on our main forte which is innovating novel products that align with the customer requirements.
Recently, the Central Bank announced its decision to lift the ceiling on interest rates. Following this, many banks have now declared that they will charge an interest rate of around 28.00 percent. In light of these changes, what will be the strategy for Pan Asia Bank?
We do understand that due to the increasing cost of funds, banks need the space to revisit their lending rates. However, as a bank that takes pride in positioning itself as the ‘Understanding Bank’, we are trying our level best to minimize the difficulties faced by customers due to rate increases. Hence, with regard to our credit cards, in spite of having the ceiling on interest rates uplifted, we are staying true to our brand of promise and keeping our cards as low interest credit cards although that is going to cost us an additional profit opportunity. Therefore, we will continue to operate as a low interest credit card and take every measure to ease the burden on our customers in light of these changes.
Does this mean customers can continue to avail your Balance Transfer arrangements at a lower rate than what your competitor banks are offering?
Certainly. This is exactly what our proposition is. In fact, customers can still transfer their other bank credit card balances to a Pan Asia Bank credit card at a rate as low as 16.0 percent. We will continue to offer the best value for our customers in terms of attractive seasonal promotions and special discounts whilst at the same time enjoying the benefits of the lowest interest rates in the market. Pertaining to the increased interest rates, our Balance Transfer facility is expected to ease 40.0 percent off on their interest charges. Further, our Balance Transfer Installment Plans allow the cardholders to pay off their accumulated credit card debt in full over specific time period under the lowest of interest rates.
Can you elaborate more on the benefits that are offered to your customers through the Bank Transfer Facility?
Our Balance Transfer facility is designed in such that our cardholders can transfer their existing credit card balances to Pan Asia Bank credit card without additional charges. They can then decide to pay off the amount in either specific monthly installments or in varying monthly amounts that suits their monthly cash flows. Either way, our customers are given the opportunity to settle the credit card debts under a significantly lower interest rate.
Can you explain the application procedure for this facility?
In order to apply, customers can simply visit their nearest Pan Asia Bank Branch and submit a completed Balance Transfer application along with a Pan Asia Bank Credit Card application as well as the required support documents including the latest credit card statements.