Pan Asia Bank: a legacy built on innovation

Nimal Tillekeratne, Director and Chief Executive Officer of Pan Asia Bank

The bank’s single minded focus on customer wellbeing over the last 25 years has placed it in a strong position to drive growth in a post-COVID environment.

With innovation deeply carved in its DNA, Pan Asia Bank has in its 25-year journey, seen steady growth in some of the most challenging of times. As COVID-19 shapes a new business landscape, the bank has proven its resilience by outperforming the industry. Nimal Tillekeratne, Director and Chief Executive Officer of Pan Asia Bank discusses the reasons behind the bank’s success and vision for the future.

Can you take us through the bank’s 25-year journey, and important milestones along the way?

Tillekeratne: Our journey over the last 25 years reflects the sound pillars on which Pan Asia Bank has been built. The sense of nation-mindedness and responsibility with which we have led the growth of the country and the prosperity of our customers continue to inspire us to be the ‘Truly Sri Lankan Bank’ with a strong sustainability-focused vision. We pioneered many initiatives over the last 25 years, using in-house expertise to engender a positive impact on society and the environment. For example, Pan Asia Bank accelerated renewable energy financing to encourage a low-carbon, sustainable economy by supporting solar power projects and drip irrigation: a forerunner in the banking industry in this regard. Also, the bank was the first to cater to the pensioners’ segment.

In recognition of these pioneering efforts, the bank has won many awards and accolades over the years such as the Client Innovation Awards 2020 by Infosys Finacle and the ‘Most Fabulous Global Training and Development Leaders Award’ at the World HRD Congress 2020 being some of the recent ones. Pan Asia Bank was yet again featured in the latest Business Today Top 30 rankings, standing shoulder to shoulder with Sri Lanka’s largest corporates. Our products and services are aimed at fulfilling the requirements of our customers, and to make a greater economic contribution at all times. We have much to be proud of on the occasion of our 25th anniversary. The spirit of innovation which guides us remains strong and we expect to reach many more milestones in the years ahead

 

What kind of legacy has the bank built for itself over the last two and a half decades, and looking forward, how is the bank preparing for the post-COVID new-normal contributing to reshaping and resetting the economy?

Tillekeratne: As a truly Sri Lankan bank, we understand the needs of our customers and continuously strive to offer them unique products while providing unparalleled customer service. Despite the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Sri Lanka, Pan Asia Bank has sustained its momentum and performed strongly compared to industry peers. This is largely due to our prudent financial risk management and governance framework.

Pan Asia Bank is well prepared to meet the needs of the post-COVID world. A strategic restructuring process over the last few years has ensured we have the right people in the right roles. The dynamic team in place is supported by a strong corporate culture. As the ‘Truly Sri Lankan Bank’, we have identified the real needs of Sri Lankan consumers, their financial requirements and their aspirations, and have expanded our offerings accordingly. As the post-COVID world evolves, we are well-positioned to innovate new products to meet customer needs.

Businesses will have to restrategize to uncover growth opportunities in a post-COVID era. Can traditional banking help or is something more needed here?

Tillekeratne: Supporting the country’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Pan Asia Bank deployed a range of value-added services to ensure customers could stay home safe and yet access its banking solutions. We realized the need to be even more customer-centric at this difficult time to support efforts to battle the pandemic. Pan Asia Bank is re-strategizing basic banking fundamentals with new strategies revolving around the digitization of products and services, giving customers access to our services via both traditional and digital platforms. There will be a growing demand for contactless transactions and we are well geared to cater to customers at every level of the digital spectrum. Our digitalization process is supported by strong compliance and risk mitigation initiatives.

What’s the role of digital technology in the bank’s overall strategy? Tell us about some of the technologies piloted and their outcomes?

Tillekeratne: Technology is an enabler and not an end in itself. As the ‘Truly Sri Lankan Bank’, we prioritize customer experiences which is a barometer for digitalization. Pan Asia Bank continues to leverage digital platforms effectively to deliver banking products and services to customers and enhance operational efficiencies. Recently we introduced a new Card Management System to provide a world-class experience for our cardholders. In addition to online banking and our Pan Asia Digital App, we have partnered with Lanka QR for QR-enabled transactions and re-launched Business Internet Banking. Also, the Department of Pensions recently selected Pan Asia Bank to be the first private sector bank to deploy an electronic fingerprinting facility as a speedy alternative to providing a life certificate for pensioners.

Pan Asia Bank has sustained its momentum and performed strongly compared to industry peers

How is PABC positioning itself in terms of creating value for borrowers and depositors, while also driving shareholder value?

Pan Asia Bank has gone over and beyond expectations to meet the requirements of the market. To ease the burden of the pandemic on SME customers, we organized a webinar to help 250 SMEs plan strategies for a post-COVID world. The bank pioneered the promotion of green financing in Sri Lanka as a recipient of the first $7.75 million Green Bond launched by Swissbased Symbiotics. In partnership with a global banking partner, Pan Asia Bank launched a superior Gold Loan product, that protects the asset value in fluctuating market conditions. To coincide with its 25th anniversary, the bank launched a no-frills current account eliminating the usual fees and charges otherwise payable up to end-December 2021. Consistent financial growth achieved within the bank’s strong risk and governance frameworks continue to create wealth for shareholders. Despite the challenges, in 2019-2020, the bank has outperformed its peers by achieving historic profitability.