Bank of Ceylon celebrates 74 years of dedicated service
Thursday, 1 August 2013 01:18
After World War I, the inadequacy of financial services available in the country became an important national issue. Foreign banks and the Natucottai Chettiyars held a monopoly over the money lending industry, while many Ceylonese businessmen and landowners shut down shops with no funds to carry on.
In those dark days, State council member George E. De Silva spearheaded a demand for the establishment of a State aided bank to rescue the nation from its dire predicament. The proposals put forward by the commission were approved unanimously and made way for the establishment of the Bank of Ceylon. Ordinance No. 53 of 1938 would put the establishment on paper and British Governor Sir Andrew Caldecott declared open the Bank of Ceylon (BOC) on 1 August 1939 at Bristol Street.
In its early years, BOC made sound progress, maintaining a steady increase in its paid up capital, deposits, investments and advances. The bank’s first outstation branch was opened in Kandy in 1941 and the second in 1944 in Galle.
Expanding not only locally but also taking Sri Lankan banking to the world, BOC opened its first overseas branch in London in 1949 in order to improve the budding export business of tea and coffee.
With the introduction of open economic policies since 1977 and the liberalisation of the economy, there was room for phenomenal growth. Not only did the bank’s assets, deposits, advances and profits grow, but so did its number of staff, branches and product portfolio. The bank diversified itself into many related banking activities like merchant banking, leasing, credit cards, automated banking services and stock brokering. It also introduced the first credit card to Sri Lanka in 1989 with the Ceybank Visa Card.
The BOC as we know it today was once the pride of Colombo’s skyline. Standing at 32 stories, construction commenced in 1982 and was ceremonially opened in 1987. By the time the bank celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1989, it had become a major agent in the economic development of the country.
In more recent times, innovative steps and out-of-the-box thinking has enabled BOC to grow stronger and strengthen the country’s economic resources. The multi-faceted services are greatest strength of BOC. From the children’s savings account to corporate credit, for the State sector and private organisations, BOC is at every level.
BOC has the strength and the diversity of resources to offer its customers a range of financial solutions; from corporate banking, personal banking, SME banking, Islamic banking, investment banking, off-shore banking, development banking, international and Treasury and trade financing services, through its widely spread branch network covering all parts of the country.
In order to facilitate customer convenience, the bank’s main office now offers a 24-hour banking service that is available 365 days of the year. Its customer touch points include 609 branches, more than 500 ATMs, 861 foreign correspondent agents to remit money to Sri Lanka, 13 SME dedicated centres for entrepreneurs, mobile phone banking services, internet banking services, SMS banking services and premier banking services.
Bank of Ceylon also launched the facility of night banking at its Wellawatte and Maharagama branches and offers Saturday/Sunday banking at selected locations as well as a 24-hour multilingual call centre facility.
Fitch Rating Lanka Ltd. affirmed Bank of Ceylon’s national long term rating of AA+ (lka) stable outlook which is the highest rating awarded to a local commercial bank. Brand Finance Lanka ranked BOC as the number one brand in Sri Lanka for the fifth consecutive year in 2013. Furthermore, the bank made history by achieving the largest asset base of Rs. 1 trillion on its balance sheet among all commercial banks in Sri Lanka.
Bank of Ceylon, Sri Lanka’s number one bank with 74 years of strength, trust and stability, received the global recognition as one of the top 1,000 banks in the world, by superseding all Sri Lankan banks according to the world’s premier banking and finance magazine, The Banker magazine in July 2013.
Today (1 August), Bank of Ceylon celebrates its 74th anniversary –a voluminous period of strength, success and stature. Leading the banking and financial sector since 1939, BOC has constantly succeeded in contributing to the growth of the nation and continues to assist the development of the country and guiding entrepreneurs to reach greater heights which makes Bank of Ceylon the ‘Bankers to the Nation’.