Items filtered by date: January 2017

In a bold effort to ensure Sri Lanka’s payments industry landscape continues to revolutionize and stay abreast with the latest global trends, LankaClear unveiled another groundbreaking initiative with an ambitious objective to drive 20% of retail payments via smart mobile devices by the year 2020. Making its debut recently, JustPay was launched as an initiative to facilitate retail payments via disruptive technology innovations.

LankaClear’s newest addition
The newest addition to the national payment network, a brainchild of LankaClear, is a facility that is backed by the Central Bank and all the member banks of LankaPay Common Electronic Fund Transfer (CEFTS). It typically aims to facilitate secure real-time retail payments below Rs.10000 under an extremely low tariff scheme. Accordingly, it is acknowledged that JustPay will enable customers to make retail payments from their bank account by using smart mobile phones and other smart devices.

This latest innovation kicked off as a highly secure payment mode, which will utilize two factor authentication and end to end encryption, according to LankaClear CEO Channa de Silva. He noted that such additional measures would further strengthen the security efforts of banks when enabling mobile payment applications by adhering to Central Bank (CBSL) prescribed baseline security standard for mobile applications.

Bridging the gap
De Silva opined that due to absolute convenience, highest level of security and the extremely low transaction costs, the newly inaugurated service JustPay will soon become the de facto payment option for Sri Lanka’s retail payments segment.

“In order for JustPay to be accepted by the masses, the mobile payment applications must be extremely easy to use, secure and need to support local languages. The aim is to make it a huge success by extending the usage to a point where even a farmer or a milkman in the rural most villages would be comfortable in opting for the service,” said de Silva.

The need for a ‘pull’ service in Sri Lanka
An analysis of the current status of the country’s retail financial transaction volumes indicate that although the option of facilitating a transaction through an electronic platform is available, a good majority of payments are still carried out using cash.

Global statistics reveal that despite the surge in Internet usage, cashless retail transactions account in between 2 to 5 percent of the total transaction volumes in this region. A total number of 125 million transactions per year happen in Sri Lanka via electronic mode as per CBSL statistics, which essentially means that somewhere between 2.5 to 6 billion retail transactions are still carried out using cash.

Even if we assume that only 95% of the transactions are being carried out using cash, de Silva stressed it is imperative to create a shift in the near future if the economy is to reap benefits by reducing money in circulation since some of the cash even remains completely outside the banking system stored in vaults and other “safe” locations.

“This shift would not only benefit the banks by increasing their revenue by Rs. 6 to 10 billion through transaction fees and interest, but also help to pull-in the masses to adopt electronic payment modes. The ultimate aim is to get a majority of the general public involved in the development process,” said de Silva.

Studies have shown that the printing and distribution of cash cost a nation nearly 1.5 percent of its GDP. While this is the estimated worldwide average, the percentage is expected to be notably higher for developing economies such as Sri Lanka.

“If we can attract at least 20 percent of these cash-based payments into electronic mode, this alone will drive a huge surplus in electronic transaction volumes. It potentially could save the country a significant amount of money since the usage of cash would be reduced, which would result in savings via less cash handling. The second objective to be fulfilled is the possibility of cash currently sitting in someone’s cash box or a vault coming back into the banking network. That could potentially create a huge advantage to the economy” reiterated the chief.

The solution
As a solution to fast track the country towards reducing the usage of cash, LankaClear sought after to identify a futuristic instrument that would drive the initiative forward. With Sri Lanka standing out in the region for its high mobile phone penetration rate, and increasing usage of smart phones, the company recognized that the ideal delivery channel of choice would be the smart devices.

“After much deliberation, we felt that the smart devices would be the preferred instrument for this initiative. As it is, there are over 4 million smartphones and a significant number of other smart devices used in the country, thus we were convinced that this is the most appropriate channel in enabling banks to accommodate the general public to make electronic payments even at their grocery store,” de Silva expressed.

The infrastructure required to drive this initiative forward is to enable the payment of a customer to be made to a merchant. “If a customer can make a payment through a smart phone and the funds gets transferred from his bank account to the merchant’s bank account in real time, then one doesn’t need to exchange or even have cash in his wallet” he added.

JustPay low tariff solution
Currently banks charge Rs. 50 per transaction to make a real time payment to another bank, immaterial of the value. However, when we are looking at the retail space a transaction fee of Rs. 50 would be unacceptable to a common user especially for low value retail payments. In an effort to encourage the usage of the facility, LankaClear and the respected banks have agreed on a low transaction tariff structure for payments up to Rs. 10,000 where the transaction fee would be extremely insignificant such as a fee of Rs. 1 for a payment up to Rs. 1000. In time to come, we are anticipating either some banks or the merchants might opt to absorb this fee and provide the service free of charge to the customer.

Challenges to overcome
While the services to general public would be delivered via a smart apps, the most successful apps would belong to the acquiring banks that sign up the most number of merchants, which will give customers enough options to make payments. The primary issue addressed by this concept, which was designed by the banks together with LankaClear, is the scale of adoption where both customer and merchant account doesn’t require to be in the same bank.

“If the customer and the merchant are in the same bank then there is no scale for growth. As we are trying to reach 20 percent cashless transactions by 2020, the other problematic issue is in the area of adoption,” said de Silva.

He stressed that the ICT industry in partnership with banks have been encouraged to come up with extremely convenient apps that addresses different needs of consumers and facilitate a ‘one click payment’ option.

The biggest challenge is in gaining the confidence and trust of the general public to use Smart devices towards making payments. “This would be our primary hurdle to overcome. However, we have made significant investments to ensure sufficient security is provided by obtaining highest levels of security certifications to our payments network. The banking sector would also adopt a seamless two factor authentication process for payments made via smart devices to give much needed confidence to general public to increase adoption,” said the chief confidently.

Published in monetary

30 January 2017, Colombo: Serendib Flour Mills (SFML)’s Annual Sales Conference was held successfully at the Airport Gateway Hotel recently, with the wholehearted participation of the senior management, departmental heads and its entire sales force in attendance. A total of 170 employees participated in this event, which is of great significance in the company’s annual sales and marketing calendar.

The highlight of the event was to recognize and reward the high performers for 2016. Several categories of sales personnel were recognized for their outstanding contribution during 2016. The Best 7 Star Sales Executive of the year accolade were awarded to Ruwan Darshana (Senior Sales Executive), who emerged the Winner, while Wasantha Premathilake (Area Sales Executive) and K. Sritharan (Company Sales Representative) were adjudged 1st Runner and 2nd Runners up in the same category.

Isuru Udara (Company Sales Representative) emerged as the Winner of the Best 7 Star Retail Sales Executive of the Year.

The Winner of the Best 7 Star Distributor Sales Representative of the Year category was Anton Bazil, followed by D. W. L. Padmasiri and O. V. Sarath Kumara as 1st and 2nd Runners up respectively.

Moreover, the Best 7 Star Retail Distributor Sales Representative of the year prize was won by Paskiran Sabesh.

The Annual Sales Conference is also used as a forum to discuss past performance of the company, review sales, marketing and competitor activities, and also to outline the strategic plans for 2017. This year’s conference theme was ‘Year of Quality & Growth’. Going ahead in 2017, SFML is focused on improving product quality and service aspects, thus growing volume, revenue and market share.

Furthermore, the sales teams also had the opportunity of listening to Mr. Kishu Gomes MD/ CEO of Chevron Lanka, who graced the occasion as Guest Speaker and delivered an inspiring presentation on “How to build an amazing Front line to Beat Competition”.

Adding further excitement to the event, SFML re-launched its new corporate website on the occasion, with fresh features and eye-catching design. The prime motivation behind the re-launch was to modernize the website in keeping with the changing environmental dynamics and also to incorporate new features in keeping with the internal changes in the business.

The improved website now showcases new items such as a corporate video, and other valuable information on ‘Wheat Flour & Health’ on the goodness of wheat flour, information on the structure of the wheat kernel, health benefits of wheat flour, health benefits of whole wheat and so on. The website also highlights the profiles of the Senior Management Team. Another highlight of the new website is a section on Sustainability and on the measures that SFML is taking to reducing its carbon footprint, along with other CSR initiatives of the company.

About Serendib Flour Mills
SFML commenced commercial operations in 2008 and reached significant milestones within a short span of 8 years. The company’s market share stands at 25% and buoyed by its success in the past two years, it expects to accomplish greater achievements in 2017.

Published in Miscellaneous

January 30th 2017: MAS Holdings becomes the latest apparel and textile manufacturer to become a value chain affiliate of the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) group, as it works to move the industry towards a goal of zero discharge of harmful chemicals to the environment by 2020.

Becoming the first company from Sri Lanka to join the ZDHC programme is a step taken deliberately by MAS to achieve its vision for a zero toxic future for the apparel and textile industry.

Headquartered in Sri Lanka with 50 manufacturing facilities placed across 15 countries, design locations in key style centers across the globe and with over 88,000 people involved in its operation MAS is now a $1.6 Bn conglomerate, and is positioned as one of the world’s most recognized design-to-delivery solution providers in the realm of apparel and textile manufacturing.

The new partnership makes way for both MAS and ZDHC to create positive impact across the group’s value chain and is aligned with the company’s own sustainability plan which includes an ambitious internal goal to reduce hazardous chemical usage, in its manufacturing processes, products and its own supply chain by 2025.

MAS’s initial venture into the apparel manufacturing industry in 1986, began with the bold product choice of lingerie. Today the group has expanded its product portfolio to bras, shape wear, performance wear, sleepwear, swimwear and active wear as well as its own fabric supply chain. Their customer portfolio includes brands such as Victoria's Secret, Nike, lululemon, Calvin Klein, Marks & Spencer, Patagonia, Speedo and others.

In 6 years MAS Holdings has taken Sustainability to the core of its business by implementing standards across all its facilities in Sri Lanka and driving a culture of sustainability among its 88,000 strong workforce, 70% of whom are women. Now the apparel conglomerate is broadening its mandate by seeking out greater collaboration on projects that will position Sri Lanka as a hub for sustainable manufacturing.

Mahesh Amalean Chairman and Managing Director of MAS Holdings says “I am proud to be announcing our affiliation with the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Programme. Becoming a value chain affiliate member of ZDHC marks a key milestone in this journey where MAS has made a clear commitment to drive real change in our sphere of influence and support the ZDHC group and our partners to remove hazardous chemicals from all textile production by 2020.

Our ZDHC commitment is simply one part of our overall strategy and the pillars which make our core – Innovation, Sustainability and Collaboration. We are determined to work with all we influence in this journey to innovate alternatives that are safer, more efficient and does no harm to the environment or to our communities. We hope more peers and partners will join us in this quest to create the non-toxic future that we must all urgently work towards as a collective vision”.

A view echoed by Sarinda Unamboowe the Board Director overseeing Sustainable Manufacturing at MAS says “We have identified responsible chemical management as a key focus of our sustainability plan and becoming part of the ZDHC programme is one more step towards creating a non-toxic future. Growing a business while growing a mandate for sustainability is a tough job and an even tougher act to follow. We believe sustainability needs to go beyond a CSR mandate and become a strategic core of the business. This approach means MAS goes beyond precaution, compliance and mere promotion of sustainability, and seeks long-term solutions in collaboration with all key stakeholders.”

Published in Miscellaneous
Tuesday, 31 January 2017 13:16

Eurocars officially unveils the 718 Cayman

Colombo. Eurocars, the official importer and dealer of Porsche cars in Sri Lanka, officially unveiled the 718 Cayman with the German Ambassador of Sri Lanka, Mr. Jörn Rohde at the CMTA Motor Show in Colombo. The 718 Cayman and 718 Boxster are the new names of the two-door mid-engine sports cars from Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG.

The fourth, redeveloped generation of the mid-engine 718 Cayman has a more striking, athletic and efficient appearance. Just a few weeks after the debut of the new 718 Boxster, the new 718 Cayman is extending the new model series. The same new four-cylinder flat engines with turbocharging as in the 718 Boxster are being deployed in the 718 Cayman. As a result, they both have an identical engine output for the first time. The entry-level version starts with 220 kW (300 hp) from two litres of displacement. The S model delivers 257 kW (350 hp) with a displacement of 2.5 litres. This represents 18 kW (25 hp) more power compared to the predecessor models with an NEDC fuel consumption of 8.1 to 6.9 litres per 100 kilometres.

The Stuttgart car manufacturer’s 718 designation is a reference to the ground-breaking sports car of the same type of the year 1957, which enjoyed great success in renowned car races. The 718 Cayman and Boxster show more and more similarities – both visual and technical. In the future, both will have equally powerful four-cylinder flat engines with turbocharging.

The 718 model series is a continuation of the proven four-cylinder concept and the history of distinguished Porsche sports cars. The latest example is the 919 Hybrid LMP1 race car, which also has a highly-efficient, turbocharged four-cylinder engine with just 2 litres of displacement. Not only Porsche finished first and second in the 24 hours of Le Mans, the world’s most competitive sports car competition, but most recently it also won the manufacturer’s and driver’s championship titles in the WEC World Endurance Championship.

History of the 718: four-cylinder flat engine has many car racing victories.

Four-cylinder flat engines have a long tradition at Porsche – and they have enjoyed incredible success. In the late 1950s, the 718 – a successor to the legendary Porsche 550 Spyder – represented the highest configuration level of the four-cylinder flat engine. Whether it was competing at the 12-hour race in Sebring in 1960 or at the European Hill Climb Championship that ran between 1958 and 1961, the Porsche 718 prevailed against numerous competitors with its powerful and efficient four-cylinder flat engine.

The 718 achieved the first place three times between 1959 and 1960 at the legendary Italian Targa Florio race in Sicily. At the 24 Hours of Le Mans race 1958, the 718 RSK with its 142-hp four-cylinder engine scored a class victory.

Eurocars has been the official agent of Porsche cars for over 18 years and continues to serve its exclusive clientele with services that are on par with global standards. Eurocars is part of the IWS Holdings Group, which manages a varied portfolio of industries across Automobile, Aviation, Communication and IT, Food Processing & Packaging, Industrial, Leisure, Warehousing & Logistics and Mass Media.

Published in Automobile

Monday, 30th January 2017, Colombo: The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) held its annual Alumni Laureate Awards Ceremony recently in Malaysia. This year, alumnus Shahen Amaratunga from Sri Lanka was awarded "Alumnus of the Year 2016" for his contribution in designing and developing an environmental sustainability standard for Sri Lanka's MAS Holdings.

Since his graduation from the University, Shahen has worked for MAS Holdings, one of the world's most recognized designed-to-delivery solution providers in apparel and textile manufacturing.

"My studies at University of Nottingham helped me secure a job as an environmental engineer in one of the most reputed apparel manufacturing companies in Sri Lanka, employing over 85,000 people with a turnover in excess of USD1.6 Billion. My task was to ensure that we manufactured in an environmentally responsible manner," said Shahen during his acceptance speech for the award.

He is currently a member of the MAS Biodiversity team tasked with reforesting Sri Lanka where he designed a butterfly gardening guide that could even be used in residential areas. In 2015 he led an initiative that reduced 32MW of electrical energy in one week and planted 6,500 trees in a single month.

As a student at UNMC, Shahen was elected as student representative for his subject area and he served in the position for three consecutive years due to his outstanding leadership qualities. He was a member of the student body that represented the Department of Chemical Engineering at the BEM (Board of Engineers Malaysia) & MQA (Malaysian Qualifications Agency) accreditation panel discussions and also represented the UNMC Chemical Engineering Department at the iChemE games hosted by NUS-Singapore in 2009.

'Even as a student he was involved in the accreditation process with professional bodies and standards body," said UNMC CEO and Provost Professor Graham Kendall.

The Alumnus of the Year award was presented at the Alumni Laureate Awards, which is an annual event to recognise outstanding alumni that also provides a networking platform for graduates of The University of Nottingham. The awards dinner was hosted by Vice Chancellor of The University of Nottingham Professor Sir David Greenaway and Professor Graham Kendall.

The University of Nottingham has more than 250,000 graduates in the alumni community, a global family originating from the foundation of the University in 1881. Approximately 5 percent of the alumni members are Malaysians. The University of Nottingham was named as the best university in the UK for graduate employment, according to the 2017 The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide, which was announced on September 23.

Published in HR & Education
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