Hatton National Bank the premier private sector commercial Bank which was named the Bank of the Year in Sri Lanka in 2012 and 2013 along with Bharti Airtel, a leading global telecommunications company with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa, Smart Metro, an international software application development company specializing in NFC technology and the sole promoter of Sony FeliCa in Sri Lanka the market leader in the NFC industry and the Badulla Bus Association commercially launched the second phase of the NFC (Near Field Communication) enabled multi-functioned payment system in the Badulla region.
This payment system will be available for customers residing or traveling through the region on 'HNB One Card', the pioneering NFC enabled payment card launched in December 2013. With the provision of the e-bus ticketing facility, HNB becomes the first bank to deploy such a service commercially in Sri Lanka.
Commenting at the official event, Mangala Wickramasinghe, Head of Payment Cards & Electronic Delivery Channels at HNB stated, "Having launched this system in Matara we currently have a huge demand for it. This is not only because of its technological sophistication but because it is backed by a solid business model which focuses on commuters and bus owners as well as bus conductors and drivers. We have improved the system based on requests from Badulla Transport & Agency Co. and one significant improvement is that it now caters to EPF/ETF management of drivers and conductors."
The connectivity technology for the complete system will be energized by Airtel through Airtel Lanka Enterprise Solutions. The NFC connectivity system will add to the list of innovative global enterprise solutions that Airtel has introduced to Sri Lanka such as IPLC and vehicle tracking systems.
"As an organization that changed the landscape of telecommunications in Sri Lanka, it has always been our ethos to change the ways in which businesses operate. It is also our constant endeavor to be consistent and committed in introducing services that are current, innovative and relevant for customers" stated Suren Goonewardene, Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director Bharti Airtel Lanka. "True to our commitment, we have now taken this project forward to the region of Badulla. While many more regions will be covered in the near future, we hope all Sri Lankans would reap the benefit from this venture as we strive to enrich their lives with modern technology and convenience" Goonewardene further added.
The launch of the second phase of the NFC system took place in Badulla under the patronage of Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Hon. Dilan Perera, Mayor of Badulla Hon. Upali Nissanka, and other invitees from the organizations involved.
Working closely with SONY Cooperation's Felica division, Smart Metro provides the NFC enabled ticketing machine which has already been tried, tested and working successfully on 225 long distance buses belonging to the Matara Region. This is the first time that Near Field Communication technology has been used in the transport field of Sri Lanka.
" Being the sole promoter of Sony FeliCa in Sri Lanka, we are indeed very proud to pioneer a project that will change the way financial transactions are made in Sri Lanka. The world has now moved towards actively using NFC technology, users can be rest assured that Smart Metro will bring this technology and the convenience accompanying it to Sri Lanka " stated Sajeeva Hendawitharane, Director/ Chief Executive Officer Smart Metro. The terminal software security and data encryption are assured by utilizing SONY FeliCa SAM units placed inside the bus ticketing and other point of sales (POS) units and therefore Bus owners and other merchants joining the E-Ticketing solution will have the total assurance for their income whilst customers could be assured of secure payments" Hendawitharane concluded.
The NFC enabled systems will be used in 150 long distance buses and 1200 inter provincial and provincial buses belonging to the Badulla Bus Company. The card uses a simple "tap and go" method and passengers would have the convenience of travelling on these buses without the hassle of carrying cash with them. The first step in a long process of greater customer convenience, the system will soon be available for ATM transactions, transport facilities island wide, toll stations at the two currently functioning expressways, drive-thru food outlets, supermarkets and fuel stations.
Sony will be providing the NFC technology through their FeliCa contactless IC card technology, the market leader in the NFC industry. Commenting at the event, stated Ruwan Perera, Business & Technical Consultant,Sony Corporation International Sales Sect. Sales Department, FeliCa Business Division "The SONY Cooperation FeliCa Division is excited to be able to reach the people of Sri Lanka. We are sure it is the first in South Asia if not first in Asia. Today where ever you go in the worlds leading capitals cities whether at train stations or bus stations or at convenient stores , you will see people enjoying the ease of making payments simply by holding out an IC card over a reader /writer. This contact less convenience is made possible by SONY s FeliCa contact less IC card technology. The card is suitable for high volume of transactions making it environmentally friendly, therefore the word "Felicity" suggesting that the technology will make your daily lives more convenient and enjoyable"
The first phase of the project has already been tried and tested in Matara-Colombo buses of the Matara Passenger Transport Company. The successful completion of phase two will pave way for the service being spread throughout the island bringing greater convenience to the public transport system. Collaborating as the exclusive total connectivity partner throughout the entire project, Airtel will continue to provide innovative technological solutions as the project progresses. Smart Metro the provider of NFC enabled bus ticketing machines has been doing research and development in this area for many years with an unmatchable technical expertise. The NFC technology is supplied by Sony FeliCa the market leader in NFC enabled payment card industry. The partners joining HNB in the e-bus ticketing project are purely selected on technology and business capability, and have proven their capabilities through the successful completion of the two phases of the project so far.
Dilshan Rodrigo, Chief Operating Officer of HNB noted: "I'm absolutely delighted to partner Airtel and Sony Felica once again to take this ground breaking initiative to Badulla. Our inaugural project which set the stage to transform the lives of Sri Lankans who commute by buses in Matara was successfully launched. Being the first bank to introduce NFC technology to Sri Lanka is a leap step for HNB in the electronic Banking space and "HNB One" the first NFC card will complement many innovations including Mobile banking, HNB "MOMO", Internet and Mobile Banking and Pay Fast introduced in the recent past in the retail banking sphere."
The Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Hon. Dilan Perera, purchasing the first ebus ticket at the launching ceremony of the NFC system ebus ticketing from the Badulla Bus Association. Mr Dilshan Rodrigo, Chief Operating Officer of HNB and Mr Mangala Wickramasinghe, Head of Payment Cards & Electronic Delivery Channels of HNB are also in the picture.