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Friday June 2nd, 2023

Sri Lanka fintech start-ups seek funding in virtual pitch

ECONOMYNEXT – Seven Sri Lankan fintech start-ups, which are developing applications for insurance, payments and credit products, are seeking funding backed by Hatch, a start-up incubator which says it is engaged in a virtual accelerator program amid a Coronavirus pandemic.

The firms have undergone an intensive mentorship program guiding and readying them for guidance and investment. They then pitch for investments in a ‘demo day’.

“HatchX, the fintech chapter of Hatch is the first fintech accelerator in Sri Lanka and not only that, but it is also the first of its kind to have kicked off and gone virtual during the great lockdown of 2020…” Randula de Silva, Director, Hatch said at the demo day.

“When we first set off to think of doing a fintech accelerator, the intention was not only really to scout out and strengthen the brightest of the companies in the fintech landscape but also to open a new door towards creating a transformation in the financial sector in Sri Lanka by bringing together all of the stakeholders who are playing a key role in the financial ecosystem.

Sri Lanka has controlled the spread of Coronavirus and most economic activities have resumed subject to social distancing and health rules.

Virtual Pitch

The virtual pitch was streamed across all the continents on multiple forums.

Among potential investors, there were funds, angels, banks, and insurance companies.

Seven fintech start-ups pitched their business proposals – OGO Pay, iLoan, Smart Insure, Direct Pay, Algoredge, Fipbox and Helios P2P, to potential investor at a demo day which was live-streamed to potential investors worldwide.

OGO pay is targeting gig workers. It aims to make financial transaction easier for platforms to accept payments and from then on, the user can immediately with a click pay a loan, invest, or save.

It also documents the transactions thereby making it easier to obtain credit from banks.

“By helping gig workers, we are also helping financial services to reach a market they couldn’t before due to constraints or because they didn’t look at those segments,” Imesh Liyanage, CEO, OGO Pay said.

“For platforms, we make it easier and cheaper to transact.”

OGO says it has processed over 37,000 transactions valued at over 28 million rupees. They are looking to raise 50 million rupees to further develop the business.

iLoan is a middle-man loan provider. It pays a creditor on behalf of a debtor, taking on the risk and the underwriting. Another option it offers is a loan with an interest rate similar to a temporary overdraft (TOD).

Currently, it has 13,000 registered users, over 5,000 loans processed and a loan book of 800,000. It seeks a 500,000 US dollar funding.


Smart Insure, mainly targeting daily-wage earners, handymen and farmers, is a platform connecting an insurer through a base provider. They are partnered with Hutch and Allianz.

Direct Pay – a digital payment platform partnering with Cargills Bank, Sampath Bank, Nations Trust Bank and Commercial bank, provides payment solutions for individuals and businesses.

The services for businesses include an internet payment gateway, virtual Point of Sale and merchant app.

They have done 4.5 million dollars’ worth of transaction with 16,000 users and 7000 merchants and are looking to raise 750,000 dollars.

Algoredge is a big data analytics platform to help businesses make accurate decisions.

“In this age, if an organisation is making a decision which is not data-driven then it is merely an opinion,” Urumila Chandrasekeram, Co-founder of Algoredge said.

The start-up is seeking 80,000 US dollars.

Boosting Innovation

The 4-month long initiative by Hatch in partnership with Lankan Angel Network was funded by Ford Foundation.

“One of the things we are focusing in Sri Lanka is how we can support the innovative enterprises and start-ups that can help us create vibrant and resilient markets which will create an overall societal growth,” Pradeep Nair Regional Director for India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka Ford Foundation, joining via Zoom said

“That’s one of the outcomes and missions ford foundation has focused on, we are continuously looking for partnerships and organisations that can get us there.

“I do believe start-ups have a huge role to play in a country like Sri Lanka. I believe they can take advantage of lessons from other countries both in this region and other countries”.

Hatch started two years ago, with 500 members both in Colombo and Jaffna. It has three incubator programs in house and two accelerator programs. (Colombo/Sep15/2020-sb)

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  1. Jason says:

    Saw the pitches and have to say it’s quite impressive for Sri Lanka!

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  1. Jason says:

    Saw the pitches and have to say it’s quite impressive for Sri Lanka!

Sri Lanka to ramp up weekend fuel deliveries after petrol price cut

More deaths reported at Sri Lanka fuel queues

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation will be operating on the weekend to complete all fuel deliveries to end vehicle queues forming outside fuel stations after the price revision earlier in the week, Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said.

“Instructions have been given to CPC and Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals to continue fuel deliveries on Saturday and Sunday this week to supply sufficient stocks to all fuel stations,” Minister Wijesekera said in a TWITTER.COM MESSAGE

“To reduce expenses on overtime, CPC and CPSTL have not been operating on Sundays and public holidays in the last 4 months,” Wijesekera said.

“Non-placement of orders by fuel stations from last Saturday, anticipating a price reduction, not maintaining minimum stocks, immediate increase in demand by consumers after the price revision, and quota increase have created shortages in the fuel stations.”

The Minister in April 2023 said all fuel stations would be required to maintain a minimum of 50 percent of stock tank capacity.

“I have asked CPC to review and suspend the license of fuel stations that had not maintained minimum stocks.” (Colombo/ June 02/ 2023)

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Sri Lanka bonds yield up at close, rupee at 291.75/292.50 against the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s bonds closed steady on Friday, dealers said, following the central bank’s decision to cut its main policy rate by 250 basis points.

The Spot US dollar closed at 291.75/292.50 rupees, dealers said.

The rupee opened at 290.25/75 to the US dollar Thursday and closed at 292.50/295.50 to the US dollar.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 24.70/90 percent up from 24.50/90 percent a day earlier, dealers said.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 closed at 25.75/26.25 percent up from 25.00/26.00 percent a day earlier.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2025 closed at 27.00/30 percent, up from 26.30/27.00 per cent at last close.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 20.25/21.00 percent, up from 20.00/40 per cent at last close.
(Colombo/ June 02/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s shares edge up on positive macroeconomic sentiments

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s shares closed higher in trade on Friday, over positive macro-sentiments encouraging investors to redeem their interest towards buying, an analyst said.

The main All Share Price Index was up 0.72 percent or 62.19 points to 8,753.80,  while the most liquid index S&P SL20 was up 0.68 percent or 16.87 points to 2,487.29.

Sri Lanka’s inflation in the 12-months to May 2023 has eased to 25.2 percent from 35.3 percent a month earlier according to a revised Colombo Consumer Price Index calculated by the state statistics office.

Prior to the Monetary Policy investors were quite optimistic that inflation is to lower and interest rates will decrease and since exp, an analyst said.

Sri Lanka Central Bank is waiting for the government proposal on the domestic debt restructuring (DDR), the central bank governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said amid uncertainty over DDR and speculations over instability in the banking sector.

“On debt restructuring, the borrower is the ministry of finance’s treasury. Certainly we will announce what the strategy will be. We are waiting for a government proposal,” Weerasinghe said.

Sri Lanka’s investors are waiting on assurances to be made on debt restructuring and optimization, Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said, “It is up to the government to clear the uncertainty, because from our side we have done that part.”

The central bank cut the key policy rates by 250 basis points to spur a faltering economic growth as inflation was decelerating faster than it projected.

The speculation of DDR has hit the market and the risk premium has kept the market lending rates well above the central bank’s policy rates. The government has yet to present its plans on DDR.

Weerasinghe said the central bank has done its best to reduce the risk premium through bringing down the market lending rates while keeping the policy rates unchanged.

Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has discussed progress of International Monetary Fund program and debt restructuring during a visit of Deputy Managing Director Kenji Okamura, statement said.

“The discussion primarily focused on the progress of the IMF program between Sri Lanka and the IMF,” a statement from President’s office said.

“Attention was also paid to the on-going debt restructuring negotiations.”

However Officials from IMF have said Sri Lanka has to focus on expanding taxes.

“We discussed the importance of fiscal measures, in particular revenue measures, for a return to macroeconomic stability,” Deputy Managing Director Kenji Okamura said in a statement.

The finance ministry this week issued rules requiring everyone above 18 year of age to register to pay income tax.

“I was encouraged by the authorities’ commitment to negotiate a debt strategy in a timely and transparent manner.

The market generated a revenue of 738 million rupees, while the daily average was 1 billion rupees.

Top gainers in trade were Vallibel One, LOLC Finance and Browns Investment. (Colombo/June02/2023)

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