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Sunday May 19th, 2024

Combank- changing the payments landscape in a digital era


Desktop banking may seem a thing of the past as millenials and Gen Zs enter the payments landscape, thriving on the evolution of technology. With smart devices becoming the norm, new payment technology is shaping the future of business. Banks that leverage the power of technology offering innovative solutions to this digitally savvy generation will continue to grow.

In an interview with Echelon magazine, Head of Card Centre – Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC, Thusitha Suraweera talks about the banks latest digital initiative, ComBank Q+ – a Quick Response based payment app that will change the payments landscape in the country.

Tell us about Q+ and the significance of this App? 

Suraweera: ComBank Q+ is the first Quick Response (QR) based payment App to be launched under LANKAQR, the national QR standard for domestic payments introduced by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL). This is a significant development that will take Sri Lanka’s payment industry to a new level, facilitating secure and instant payment services. We expect this App to be the catalyst in digitizing the retail payment transactions in the future.

With ComBank Q+, the banks Credit and Debit Card holders can now experience utmost convenience of paying for goods and services via their mobile phones in a simple and secure manner. Designed to be a convenient and hassle-free payment alternative, ComBank Q+ will open up infinite choices and opportunities for customers who use their smartphones for payments, and merchants who are keen to facilitate a smooth payment process.

How does a customer access ComBank Q+?

Suraweera: The ComBank Q+ QR code App can be downloaded and installed via the respective play stores that are compati- ble with the customer’s smartphone. Thereafter, the customer’s ComBank issued cards can be linked to the application through an authentication process i.e by validating a One Time Password provided by the Bank. The user may catalogue ComBank issued Credit, Debit or Prepaid Cards on the App subject to the maximum limit of five cards, and then choose to pay by selecting a card or through a default priority card. The ComBank Q+ QR App has customer-friendly features that enable users to manage their cards and even access their transaction list at any given time.

Caption – Head of Card Centre – Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC, Thusitha Suraweera

Can any card be used with this app?

Suraweera: COMBANK issued Mastercard and Visa Cards can be added to the ComBank Q+ consumer App, enabling customers to perform MasterCardQR, mVisa transactions.

Explain to us how the app works.

Suraweera: Making a payment is as simple and as convenient as scanning the QR code presented by the merchant with their mobile phones, and selecting one of their registered Commercial Bank cards to make the payment. There won’t be the hassle of signing slips and standing in long queues for payment anymore. Using the App for payments will reduce the risk of card losses and theft because the card will remain with the cardholder even during a purchase.

How will this change the payments landscape in the country?

Suraweera: One of the biggest roadblocks in converting cash payments to digital payments is the considerable capital expenditure the Banks have to incur in deploying POS devices. A majority of the mid level merchants also find it a challenge to achieve the turnover targets set by the Banks to be eligible for a POS device. The QR code based payment model will eliminate these requirements facilitating cheaper, faster and more secure payments. With an increasing number of merchants being able to accept payments through Digital channels, the local payment industry will definitely be positively impacted.

Will this App be beneficial to the merchants? if so how?

Suraweera: Merchants are provided with a separate App similar to the Q+ consumer App to receive payments when their respective QR codes are scanned by customers. ComBank’s merchant application supports both static and dynamic QRs, bringing more convenience to the merchants and cardholders. A static QR is a unique QR code assigned to a merchant location where you make the purchase through a QR code. Once the QR code is scanned the value of the payment has to be entered by the person making the payment. A dynamic QR code is when the merchant generates a QR code specific for your transaction inclusive of the transaction amount through his application on the phone enabling you to scan and pay instantly. QR Merchants can also view the real time transaction status through the App, and those without smart phones can receive the transaction alert via SMS to their feature phones.

Are people adapting the electronic payment concept as expected?

Suraweera: We operate the single largest ATM network owned by a private bank in the country with about 846 ATMs and CRMs. As the largest active Debit Card issuer in the country we have a market share of around 33% on actual spends. On average our ATMs dispense about Rs 1.25 Bn for a day. All that cash is withdrawn by people to perform transactions, so in that context, we are still predominantly a cash economy. As such there is greater potential to convert cash transactions to electronic transactions.