Building on efforts to finance a grassroots revival of the national economy, Sri Lanka’s highest ranked private sector bank in the Banker Top 1000 world banks ranking, HNB PLC, ramped up assistance to individuals and enterprises negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic by granting debt moratoriums worth Rs. 350 billion as at the end of June 2020.
In total, HNB granted over 65,000 moratoriums across the entire spectrum of the bank’s clients; spanning corporate, Small and Medium (SME), micro, and retail customers.
Working in alignment with Government led initiatives, HNB also facilitated Rs. 9.5 billion in Working Capital (WC) loans at a concessionary interest rate of 4% per annum via the Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s ‘Saubhagya COVID -19 Renaissance Facility’ and ‘Credit Guarantee and Interest Subsidy’ Schemes.
In order to support SMEs that were not captured by the Saubhagya fund, HNB also leveraged its own internally generated Rs. 5 billion COVID SME relief fund to disburse loans at a concessionary interest of 8% p.a.
“So far relative to our regional peers, and even several developed nations, Sri Lanka has made commendable progress in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 while facilitating a gradual revival of essential economic activity. Working in alignment with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, HNB has sought to do its part during this unprecedented crisis by supporting customers who are impacted by the pandemic.”
“While significant assistance has been provided in terms of concessionary working capital loans and debt moratoriums, there are many more clients especially SMEs that are still facing severe constraints that still require support. We wish to reassure these customers that HNB will always stand with you in this difficult moment, and provide all possible assistance to ensure that enterprises are able to bridge gaps in their balance sheets in order to secure a strong recovery despite the challenges ahead,” HNB Managing Director/CEO, Jonathan Alles stated.
Under HNB’s COVID relief programme, businesses with annual turnover below Rs. 1 billion will be eligible to apply for loans upto Rs. 50 million in order to meet their most immediate working capital requirements.
As the first private sector commercial bank to enter the SME space, HNB has a long history of supporting SME development in Sri Lanka. Over the past year, the bank took further extraordinary measures to assist SME clients, initially through the provision of loan moratoriums and working capital loans to businesses negatively impacted by the Easter Attacks of 2019.
Given the bank’s role as a proven leader in technological innovation, HNB was also able to extend rapid support in the form of comprehensive digital banking services in order to guarantee uninterrupted service to its valued customers throughout the lockdown period. During this time, HNB deployed four mobile ATMs across 714 locations in order to ensure that customers lacking access to digital banking services were still able to withdraw or deposit cash across the Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Puttalam, Kandy and Jaffna districts.
With rising demand for home delivery services and cashless transactions, the bank’s highly sought after MOMO system – low-cost Bluetooth enabled device for accepting card payments – received a strong surge in requests from enterprises and essential goods providers of all sizes. Similarly, HNB SOLO – the bank’s QR-code based mobile wallet also recorded a notable increase in demand during the pandemic; given that it provides users with the advantage of being able to stay socially distanced when paying for goods. In response to the pandemic, HNB also fast-tracked development of services like Appi Go – a revolutionary platform that facilitates businesses with end-to-end e-commerce capabilities – enabling businesses to join a plug-and-play e-commerce revolution taking place across Sri Lanka.
With 252 customer centres across the country, HNB is one of Sri Lanka’s largest, most technologically innovative banks having won local and global recognition for its efforts to drive forward a new paradigm in digital banking. Over the recent past, the bank has continuously won prestigious accolades including being declared Best Retail Bank in Sri Lanka by the Asian Banker Magazine. Locally, HNB leads the Business Today Top 10 rankings and also claimed seven awards at the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Awards 2019. The first Sri Lankan bank to obtain an international credit rating, HNB is rated on par with the sovereign by Moody’s Investors Service, and the national long term rating of HNB revised upward by two notches to AA+ (lka) recently by Fitch Ratings (Lanka) Ltd.