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Sri Lankan banks urged to look at wider customer base

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan banks should look beyond their immediate customer base at the wider, emerging digital transactions applications to expand their market, the head of the island’s electronic clearing house has said.

“Service companies are taking away your business,” Channa De Silva, chief executive of LankaClear, told a banking forum, referring to services provided by companies like Airbnb and Uber. “That’s your market. Why are you looking only at your bank customers – the 500,000 or one million?”

Market forecasts show that, in a few years, a sizeable number of people  will have their first banking experience on smartphonesm with most of them never visiting a bank, De Silva said.

Firms like Uber not only catered to those who go by taxi, but were able to broaden their customer base and make the market bigger.

“They started catering to customers who never thought of going in a taxi and grew the market – that’s what we need to talk about,” De Silva said.

“It means people who were not using taxis started going by taxi. They were able to make the market three times its original size,” De Silva told BankTech Asia 2017 in Colombo, a forum organized by Malaysia-based Knowledge Group.

“They did not cater to the taxi market, but to people’s needs of going from A to B. So you should look outside your base – not narrowly at bank customers. The banking industry needs to support them – they are our customers.”

De Silva said the financial sector is getting disrupted “whether we like it or not” with consumer banking and fund transfer getting disrupted the most.

“If you don’t cater to them, you’ll lose a big chunk of customers since convenience is driving adoption of technology.”
(COLOMBO, March 30, 2017)





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