5:52 PM, March 1, 2024

Driving the 3Ps through digitisation

| The European |

For People’s Bank, with over five decades of history, each of these characteristics have remained fundamental to its existence, and it is because of these deep-rooted traits that the Bank has gone beyond horizons, broken boundaries and re-shaped paradigms, while continuing to focus unwaveringly on its core ethos of being ‘the pulse of the people’. It’s reputation remains strong and the steadfast trust it has garnered remains solid, as has the loyalty and confidence it has commanded from its long-lasting relationship with its stakeholders. All of these have showcased People’s Bank as one of the most innovative financial services solutions providers, cemented further by the pioneering milestones it has achieved throughout its history, proving the prestige it has acquired over the years.

Strong financials

To build trust there must be stability, which is evident in the results that People’s Bank continues to produce every year. At the conclusion of the last financial year for example, the Bank reached a record LKR 144.7Bn in gross income and LKR 1 Tn in achievements, which is a first for any Sri Lankan bank in a single year. Each KPI has been steadily showcasing an upward trajectory, which Chairman Hemasiri Fernando states is due to the Bank’s insistent focus on every stakeholder. “Each award we have won, whether in Sri Lanka or internationally, proves that we are continuing to trail blaze. Being ranked as the 387th largest bank in Asia by the Asian Banker magazine, with our ‘Return on Equity’ standing among the Top 20 banks in the region, and the fact that the European Banker continues to fete us as ‘a Bank of repute’, highlights that we have made the mark both quantitatively and qualitatively. This naturally translates to trust, loyalty and confidence among our stakeholders.”

Readying for the future

Being extremely conscious of ever-changing stakeholder demographics, especially in an era where technology transforms the way the world functions, People’s Bank has aggressively pursued innovation and transformation, readying for a future driven by speed, convenience and technology. The first step was the unveiling of a new logo, conceptualised on People’s Bank embarking on a new journey and energised with new aspirations and a strategic vision built on trust, efficiency and modernity. Accompanying this was an ambitious yet very achievable digitisation drive, infused into the bank’s new business plan that grasped the multiple dimensions of digitisation and invested in networks, security and agile deployment and the associated marketing of the development strategies.

For CEO/GM N Vasantha Kumar, this was the pivotal point for People’s Bank journeying assertively into a new era. “We augmented our systems and process with the vital aspects of transforming the mindset across our highly professional team. The agility expected of the new look People’s Bank ready for the future became a part of our DNA. Each of us became enthusiastic about being responsible for our goals and took ownership to achieve our vision. There is renewed vigour to position People’s Bank not just as a leader in Sri Lanka, but in the region by infusing best practices in each of the 3Ps – People, Profit and Planet.”

A strong green ‘ethos’

Hence, that focus took on high priority for People’s Bank’s concentration of strengthening its green ethos. Having launched a permeating environmental sustainability policy’ last year, ‘People’s Green Pulse’ is based on a framework that builds on focused environmental management initiatives driven by a central sustainability committee.

In collaboration with The Carbon Consulting Company, the Bank has begun calculating its carbon footprint, setting goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions among others, all unambiguously reported through GRI G4 reporting processes. But the Chairman has set a further goal for the Bank; “To manage our carbon footprint with the ultimate goal of becoming a CarbonConscious® entity. Being a trail blazer, we believe that by setting benchmarks for the industry, especially in the area of environmental and social change, we can make Sri Lanka a greener country and work towards a greener planet for our stakeholders.”

And thus, in walking the talk, People’s Bank is now a strong green banking proponent, continuously unveiling eco-concepts that are revolutionising the financial services industry in the country. A good example has been a conscious move into a paperless banking environment where the Bank has introduced a surfeit of technology-driven solutions from e-statements, to mobile and internet banking to self banking centres with CDM/ATM kiosks and Express Banking for seamless transactions.

For Vasantha Kumar, this is yet another benchmark for the industry and a proud moment for People’s Bank. “With our new logo reflecting the customer-centric focus we strongly advocate, we are introducing solutions that are aligned to global trends, adding convenience, value addition, reliability and confidence into our customer formula. With a 16 million customer base which highlights the influence that People’s Bank has on a total population of just over 20 million, I know that we will drive every citizen of this country, whether urban or rural, to not only optimise on technology but also to become more green conscious.”

Technological innovations

Each technology-driven initiative such as the first ever People’s Bank Voice App or the first green banking account, has ensured that in its 55 years People’s Bank has always been close to its customers, hence the expansive physical network of 737 branches and 4,000 ATMs. It also continues to play an integral role in national development through being extremely proactive in uplifting SME and micro-enterprises, as well as in agriculture, real estate and commercial development.

With an overarching philosophy that it holds an immense responsibility in nation building through sustainable development and community inclusiveness, People’s Bank has been at the forefront of driving change and equality. Furthermore, it has been the first bank in the country to introduce trilingual operations and the country’s very first trilingual chequebook. All of this is in the belief that technology inclusion will be the catalyst in nation building and will ensure that the bank stands firm in the people’s social consciousness.

Significant milestones reached

Becoming the most digitised bank in the country is important in the bank’s future journey and has compelled it to continue pushing boundaries. A fully-fledged ‘Digital Centre’ with its plush interiors, manned by technologically trained professionals, was opened recently. This is another example of a pioneering milestone in Sri Lankan banking. Fernando proudly proclaims: “This is a quantum leap for us in our pursuit of becoming the most digitised bank by 2020. Our quest to lead the banking industry into a completely digitised era is quickly becoming a reality. The idea is for us to infuse technology to gain total financial inclusion, and by introducing these initiatives we are taking banking to the farthest corner of this country. We believe that this digitisation drive will empower us to deliver a seamless digital experience to customers, elevating Sri Lanka’s banking and financial services to an international digital platform.”

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