National Savings Bank Chairperson Keasila Jayawardena (left) and Epic Lanka Managing Director/CEO Viraj Mudalige
Further demonstrating its leadership in Fintech and digital transformation, regional technology leader Epic Lanka has announced a strategic partnership with Sri Lanka Savings Bank (SLSB), a fully-owned subsidiary of National Savings Bank (NSB), to offer its state-of-the-art digital Epic Branchless Banker platform to enhance the bank’s distribution of services in Sri Lanka’s microfinance and small and medium enterprise (SME) sectors.
The landmark partnership will enable Sri Lanka Savings Bank to benefit from the award-winning Epic Mobile Branchless Banker Solution (eMBBS). Its robust features will help the bank to transform more than 340 district secretariat offices in Sri Lanka to mini bank branches, creating a digital banking touch-point on a smart device for thousands of Sri Lankans at the grassroots level. Furthermore, it enables Sri Lanka Savings Bank to significantly expand its last-mile reach and deliver several banking services to customers at their doorstep.
According to the International Finance Corporation, Sri Lanka has 18.6 bank branches for every 100,000 people in the population out of which 83% of adults have bank accounts. Despite a high bank account penetration rate, the percentage of individuals who did not make a deposit or withdrawal transaction two years back was 31%. This implies that financial inclusion is still listed as a critical constraint for growth across many vital industry verticals in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, it proves the challenge for financial institutions to reach out to the underbanked citizens in rural areas.
In such a context, the timely collaboration between Sri Lanka Savings Bank and Epic Lanka is a crucial step taken towards bridging the gap between the bank and the unbanked masses at the grassroots level of the country while enabling less privileged citizens access to safe, convenient, and affordable financial services. Not only does this strategic partnership play a key role in promoting the financial inclusion in Sri Lanka, but it also assists the country to fast-track growth, minimise income disparities and upgrade economic stability in a longer-term trajectory.
Epic Mobile Branchless Banker Solution is a multiple front-end, device-based comprehensive online banking solution which provides a practical framework for SLSB to shift its operational strategies to a new dimension. The solution offers interfaces to many types of front-end devices that could operate as Counter-top Teller Machines or Mobile Teller Machines, allowing interfaces to initiate multiple transactions. Since most banking/business transactions can be facilitated through a physical bank branch, this state-of-the-art solution is geared to address any banking requirement of Sri Lanka Savings Bank.
The eMBBS Solution is designed to facilitate SLSB’s banking transactions at different geographical locations through wireless connectivity. Thus, it is expected to extend the bank’s services to rural areas while creating new revenue generation channels at the same time. Banking transactions will be carried out by bank-appointed agents with industry-accepted transaction security standards and time-tested cutting-edge technologies.
Sri Lanka Savings Bank GM/CEO Sujith Fernando said, “As a state bank, we have a national responsibility to transform the lives of Sri Lankans at the grassroots level. We are extremely pleased to work with Epic Lanka to enable our organisation to reach the next level within Sri Lanka’s microfinance and SME sectors and induce our ground-breaking solutions with a touch of innovation. Being able to partner with Sri Lanka’s number one Fintech solutions provider allows us to demonstrate how an organisation like SLSB could bring innovation and leadership to the local microfinance and SME industries.”
“We see huge opportunities for the microfinance sector to become customer-centric, improve the customer experience and at the same time significantly improve operating efficiency,” Fernando further stated.
The most notable feature of the Mobile Branchless Banker is the platform which enables SLSB agents to perform loan collections from clusters, mark attendance of groups, generate a physical receipt after a transaction as well as perform online account opening for new customers. The online and offline modality embedded in the application enables agents to operate in areas with low or no mobile coverage without affecting their service delivery.
One of the key components included in the solution is the Epic Transaction Switch (E-Switch), which conforms to International Secure Payment Standards (ISO 8583 Transaction Message Format), ensuring the highest level of transactional security. The entire platform communication channel is secured with government-grade encryption to ensure the privacy, authenticity, and integrity of the sensitive information exchanged. It is also fully compliant with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka guidelines for payment security standard for mobile applications.
Commenting about their collaboration, Epic Lanka Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer Viraj Mudalige said, “At Epic Lanka, we always look for progressive companies to work with in order to co-create innovative solutions which solve real-world social problems. The synergy between our Mobile Branchless Banker product and Sri Lanka Saving Bank’s innovative microfinance and SME solution serves to improve the lives of many Sri Lankans while bringing a paradigm shift for both these key sectors in terms of technological innovation and service delivery in the digital landscape. As Sri Lanka’s leading Fintech organisation, we want to further strengthen our capabilities in this space to facilitate more local financial institutions to bring convenience and accessibility to their customers in rural areas. It is truly exciting to be at the forefront of this endevour that is of national importance.”
“It is fair to say that the journey towards branchless banking in Sri Lanka will get an extra boost with this partnership. As more innovative distribution channels emerge in time, there will be a sharper focus on the perspective of customer convenience. The future looks extremely promising,” Mudalige commented further.