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The People’s Bank is known for its commitment to the betterment of the country. As one of the largest financial services providers in Sri Lanka, the Bank has been continuously featured in the World’s Top 1000 Banks by the renowned “The Banker Magazine” in the years 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Banque Populaire CEO/Managing Director Ranjith Kodituwakku recently spoke to the media about the bank’s journey so far, as well as its current and future vision.
Could you give us an overview of the current progress and stability of the Banque Populaire?
The Banque Populaire was created primarily with the aim of making banking services accessible to the general public. Currently, we have the largest customer base in the country with over 14 million and the largest branch network of 742.
Our total assets have reached Rs. 2.6 trillion and our deposits exceed Rs. 2.0 trillion. Our loans and receivables exceeded Rs. 1.9 trillion. We are happy to report that we also received the highest pre-tax profit of Rs. 30.4 billion and Rs. 23.7 billion pre-tax profit in the year 2021.
* The People’s Bank has introduced a number of new innovations in the local financial sector, how are they doing?
The People’s Bank became the first commercial bank to operate in Sinhalese and Tamil. He was the first to print checkbooks in Sinhalese and Tamil which were previously only printed in English.
The People’s Bank also introduced the Gold Mortgage Service in 1962. Through this, we were able to free people who were caught in the clutches of lenders.
On World Women’s Day in 1993, a branded women’s account “Vanitha Vasana” was launched, and to ensure the future safety of our student population, the “SisuUdana” account was launched coinciding with World Women’s Day. childhood in 1996. To this day, most students deposit their savings at the Banque Populaire.
The People’s Bank was also the first bank in the country to implement a complete digital transformation for the entire operating model, covering all aspects from the lowest to the highest level of the Bank.
The bank’s Self Banking Units (SBUs) are a pioneering introduction to our digitization program, which has over 265 units across the island. With ATMs, CDMs and bill payment machines (KIOSK) installed here, you can experience convenient and efficient banking that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, all year.
All of our branches now have instant access to People’s Wiz which allows for quick account opening. Over a million people are signed up for the People’s Wave app, which lets you bank from anywhere. The People’s Bank has also launched the People’s Pay mobile app to support the Central Bank’s efforts to promote digital transactions without using cash. In addition, the people’s website offers online banking and the people’s credit Wiz offers personal loans within 24 hours. We have won numerous local and international awards for digital banking.
* The People’s Bank was created to stimulate local agriculture, rural economy, upgrade small and medium entrepreneurs by helping ordinary people at all levels with banking. What contributions has Banque Populaire made to these sectors?
Since its establishment, the People’s Bank has mainly focused on the development of the rural banking system and the improvement of the population. Even today, this orientation remains unchanged within the bank. If you take last year, the People’s Bank extended loan facilities to SMEs to the tune of Rs. 63.0 billion.
The bank has also introduced an agriculture-based crop loan scheme to create a self-sufficient country and has provided loans of Rs 2.3 billion over a period of 15 months ending December 31, 2021 only. The ‘Made in Sri Lanka’ loan scheme was introduced to promote local industries and ‘Saarabhoomi’ to encourage local production of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. The ‘Vanitha Savya’ loan program was launched to empower women entrepreneurs and ‘Business Power’ to uplift small and medium enterprises.
The People’s Bank has also launched the People’s Spark entrepreneurship development program with the aim of empowering young Sri Lankans who are passionate about running their own businesses.
* What facilities are given to customers when transferring money to Sri Lanka?
Sri Lankans working in foreign countries or anyone else can send money to their relatives and that money can be withdrawn easily from our network of 742 islands.
In order to recognize and encourage expatriate workers who send money from abroad, the Bank launched a promotion called “Vaasi Kotiyai bonanza” earlier this year. As part of this promotion, the grand draw winner who will be selected at the end of the year will receive a grand prize of Rs 10 million. Additionally, Monthly Winners of Rs.1 Million will be selected each month, Weekly Sovereign 22K Gold Winners will be selected 48 times, while Winners of 10,000 Daily Cash Prizes will be selected 334 times until December 31, 2022 .
In addition to this, we also offer loan facilities for those seeking employment abroad and for those already working abroad. We have also planned to introduce a special benefits package for Sri Lankans working abroad, which includes insurance benefits and loans at preferential interest rates.
* What is your opinion on the stability of the banking system and what are the benefits of dealing with a government bank and the benefits to society?
In addition to having a strong capital base, our banking system is closely supervised by the Central Bank and all local banks are managed to the highest standards in the world.
State-owned banks specifically have the largest capital base in the country and due to state ownership they enjoy extraordinary stability which in turn provides maximum security to customer deposits.
Additionally, with the extensive branch network and superior digital banking capabilities, customers can transact with People’s Bank with ease.
Last but not least, the profits made by the state banks flow back into the development of the country, which ultimately benefits the customers.
* Finally, what is the contribution made by the Banque Populaire through import and export exchanges?
The People’s Bank works successfully with more than 900 banks worldwide to facilitate import and export trade by issuing letters of credit to private and public companies. This feature is invaluable in maintaining normal life for the general public as it allows the import of essential items such as fuel, medicine, food and gas.
As I mentioned earlier, People’s Bank is driven by goals that go beyond simple profits. We work for the betterment of people and the country. As a Bank firmly committed to the welfare of the nation, we will continue to fulfill our responsibilities in this way in the future.