CICRA Solutions’ Colombo Tea e-Auction platform marks first year with Rs. 175 b sales

Wednesday, 7 April 2021 00:10 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

CICRA Holdings Group Director/CEO Boshan Dayaratne

Completing Rs. 175 billion worth of tea sold during 50 weekly sales, CICRA Solutions Ltd.’s award-winning Colombo Tea e-Auction platform is celebrating its first year of operations.

Ceylon Tea regulator Sri Lanka Tea Board’s data shows that the Colombo Tea e-auction has facilitated sale of 276 million kilograms of tea during its first year of operations; the sales through the Tea e-Auction has also facilitated over $ 1.2 billion export revenue through value addition (nearly Rs. 225 billion).

“The Colombo Tea e-Auction platform is used by all eight tea brokering companies in Sri Lanka and over 300 tea buyers and exporters; it has five concurrent virtual auction rooms. Users of the e-auction has access to power analytics and digital dashboards,” CICRA Holdings Group Director/CEO Boshan Dayaratne said.

“The Colombo Tea Auction is one of the most complex and highly-regulated auctions in the world. We managed to incorporate almost all of these features into the Colombo Tea e-Auction platform. Our latest version of the e-Auction platform is now ready with the e-catalogue and the convenor portal to manage and monitoring brokers’ cataloguing process. It also has the built-in optional auto bidding and pre-bidding feature, voice command, chat rooms, and API platform for real time secured data integration with industry stakeholders like the Sri Lanka Tea Board. The new version has the facility to enable live viewing access to factory owners,” Dayaratne added, stating that they were now working to improve the traceability of tea using block chain technology.

The Colombo Tea e-Auction platform went live on 4 April 2020 following the first lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the lockdown, the 137-year-old Colombo Tea Auction – the world’s oldest single origin tea auction to go live – had been operating a face-to-face manual outcry auction. The manual auction was held on two days per week. 

“When we launched the e-Auction platform, the first auction took five days as the users had to be trained so they could adopt the technology. With the users being trained on several occasions, today’s e-Auction is held for two days per week. Our expectation is to reduce the auction time to one day per week. We believe this could be achieved soon,” Dayaratne said.

“As at present, the e-Auction sells 3.5 lots per minute. Our target is to achieve five lots per minute to reduce the auction to one day. We have already done the necessary changes to the platform with the support of the stakeholders to achieve this.”

CICRA Solutions won the e-Swabhimani 2020 National Award in the Business and Commerce category for its pioneering Colombo Tea e-Auction platform at the e-Swabhimani Digital Social Impact Awards ceremony held on 23 March in Colombo.

Earlier, the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka nominated CICRA Solutions Tea e-Auction Platform as Sri Lanka’s nominee for Best National Digital Solution at the World Summit Awards 2020 (WSA) under Business and Commerce (Innovative Services) category. WSA is a global initiative within the framework of the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). 

The Tea e-Auction platform has also won several regional awards from Microsoft and has been featured by the International Monetary Fund.

“We must thank the Technical Evaluation Committee appointed by the Colombo Tea Traders’ Association (CTTA) headed by Huzefa I. Akbarally for their insights and guidance to convert the e-auction platform from a minimum viable solution to a fully-fledged solution,” Dayaratne said.

“A special note of thanks should be extended to the officials of the Sri Lanka Tea Board, CTTA, Ceylon Brokers’ Association, Tea Exporters’ Association, Regional Plantation Companies, Tea Smallholders’ Associations and Microsoft team in Sri Lanka for invaluable support extended to us to make the Colombo Tea e-Auction a reality,” he added.

“Our entire team accepted the challenge, purely based on supporting the tea industry at the crisis time due to the COVID-19 lockdown. The entire team worked tirelessly – almost 20 hours a day – to ensure that tea factories get their price for their production and in return are able to pay salaries and bonuses to estate employees before the traditional Sinhala and Tamil New Year. Our sincere efforts helped our country to generate $ 1.2 billion foreign exchange revenue despite the pandemic and the tea industry to thrive,” he said.

CICRA Solutions is a specialised software development company with nearly two decades of experience in software solutions for the local tea industry. The Sri Lanka Tea Board has been using CICRA Solution’s ERP since 2005 and the majority of tea brokering companies use CICRA Solutions’ award-winning TBBOSS ERP solution, some since 2002.