Sri Lanka’s Sampath Bank has many digital banking services that makes banking highly convenient for customers:
Sampath Bank of Sri Lanka is a pure local bank that caters to the banking needs of Sri Lankan people. Yet, it has state-of-the-art technology infrastructure comparable to the best banks and is a market leader. This is mainly because of the underlying spirit of innovation that is prevalent among its staff and its continuous efforts in customer satisfaction. The bank has several firsts in the country’s banking sector, ranging from introduction of the first ATMs in the country to slip-less banking.
The bank has charted a course to be in constant transformation to offer tech driven services to its customers even while retaining the halo of traditions and values. The bank’s MD Nanda Fernando says the bank is essentially a tech company offering banking services and it has a “host of digital products that are geared to offer speed, convenience, and safety to our customers”.
UNIQUE DIGITAL WALLET
He cites Sampath WePay, which is a one-stop digital wallet that allows users to store all types of financial instruments from any bank and carry out real-time online transactions. It also allows social share fund transfers, QR-based payments, and Sampath Bank and third-party fund transfers, including bill payments.
WePay is compatible with LankaQR, the national QR standard. Each WePay customer is given a virtual card, which can maintain funds for regular day-to–day requirements. This card can even be used on eCommerce platforms, and is bank agnostic, which means a person having an account or card in almost any local bank can use it. “We were also the first to introduce a Virtual Teller Machine (VTM), which is essentially a Branch-in-a-Kiosk that provides most key banking facilities, including account opening, fund transfers, debit card issuance and other standard services,” Nanda Fernando says.
VTMs combine the conventional cash recycler with a live video assistant, enabling several remote services – virtually all the banking activities. There are also VTM live agents to provide assistance, 365 days of the year.
The other digital facilities that the bank offers are customer interaction through video conferencing, chatbot within its website and a Virtual Assistant that helps customers with general inquiries as well as account balance inquiries. The bank also offers loans online, in real-time, making use of technology tools.
The bank’s internet banking platform, Sampath Vishwa, has several key features to assist customers. Most notable is loans offered online just on the basis of providing some basic details. It offers a total online banking experience that fits appropriately into a customer’s busy lifestyle. Using the platform one can send money to anyone, anywhere in Sri Lanka via mobile or CDMA network.
Yet another digital facility is Sampath Mobile Cash, which helps send cash up to Rs. 200,000 a day over any mobile or CDMA network to anyone, anywhere in the country. A bank customer can use this facility and send cash to non-bank customers too.
The bank has an account opening facility, eMandate, which is a paperless account opening system.
In another first, the bank introduced the first AI banking robot in Sri Lanka in 2017. It is a humanoid teller, which uses AI to understand customers’ requests and perform transactions. It detects the presence of a customer and automatically initiates a conversation. It can speak and understand English and can perform functions such as cash withdrawals, account balances, exchange rates, interest rates, details of loans and credit cards and information on how to open an account. The bank plans to upscale the functions that the robot will perform and equip it with Sinhala and Tamil language capabilities.
The bank recently won the gold award at the National Best Quality ICT Awards for its ‘Touchless Withdrawal’, a concept the bank developed during covid times. It is a digital solution that enables the bank’s customers, and customers of other banks, to withdraw funds in their accounts and cards without even having to physically touch the machine, at the ATMs. Withdrawals are possible by scanning a QR code displayed on the ATM screen with the help of the WePay app.
Again, Sampath Bank is the first bank in the country to make use of cloud computing. It uses AWS to host its various critical applications.