MasterCard upbeat about Sri Lanka; outlines plans for the market

Tuesday, 25 February 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

With the recent ‘Spend & Win’ campaign that got an enthusiastic response from customers, MasterCard is upbeat about offering new deals, products and promoting electronic payments system in Sri Lanka. Vikas Varma, Area Head, South Asia, MasterCard, outlining the company’s plans for the country, said: “Sri Lanka is a key market for MasterCard in South Asia. We have had significant presence in the country for 25 years. We hope to offer cardholders the best products and services from our global portfolio.  Being aware of the market’s true potential, we have renewed our focus over the past year with several country specific initiatives.” Commenting on the ‘Spend & Win’ campaign, Varma said: “It was a well-received promotional campaign aimed at rewarding our customers in Sri Lanka. Offering LKR 8 million worth of stay vouchers in total, this has been amongst the biggest consumer campaign launched by MasterCard in the country to date.” MasterCard strongly believes that Sri Lanka can benefit from several global electronic payment trends, falling in line more with current cashless spending patterns so consumers do not have to be limited by a dependence on currency notes and coins: “85% of the world’s retail transactions are still done in cash and check. The cost of using cash is quite expensive to the economy – various studies estimate this to be up to 2.5% of GDP,” said Varma. For governments, cash costs 0.5 to 1.5% of GDP, depending on the country. Meanwhile, for consumers, electronic payments help them budget and track spending through itemised purchase records. Merchants also benefit from electronic payments through increased sales, faster check-outs, less fraud, and a level playing field for smaller merchants. “MasterCard is helping shape a better world, where everyday payments are safe and simple for everyone because we’ve moved beyond cash,” he added. With Per Capita Income (PCI) expected to reach US$ 4,000 by 2016, there is a growing affluent class in Sri Lanka. There has also been rapid development in the country over the last few years and further growth could be achieved through a more robust electronic banking and payments system. “We see this as a great opportunity to partner with leading banks to provide world-class secure payment solutions and offerings to local customers,” stated Varma. Meanwhile, mobile phone penetration in Sri Lanka is one of the highest in South Asia around 95% and Internet penetration is about 7%. With this, e-commerce and mobile payments have larger headroom for growth. “We believe that this is the right time to partner with leading merchants in this space and also with its customer banks to accelerate e-commerce and mobile payments,” he added. MasterCard has entered into a five-year MOU with Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) and is aggressively promoting Sri Lanka as a premier tourist destination. Through its association with customer banks, MasterCard intends to offer truly exciting benefits and services to affluent Sri Lankan travellers across categories such as dining, hotels and retail. In 2013, MasterCard also announced tie-ups with best-in-class merchants in the country. Reiterating MasterCard’s commitment to the Sri Lankan market, Varma added: “We are excited to work closely with bank and merchant partners to fulfil the potential of the country and the future for electronic payments here.”