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HNB digital merchant acquisition surges as customers adjust to cashless payments


Resistance to cashless transactions has rapidly given way to enthusiastic usage as an unprecedented number of Sri Lankans are switching to digital banking channels, according to HNB Head of Cards, Gauthami Niranjan.


Compared with 2020, the volume of transactions on digital channels grew by a remarkable 158% Year-on-Year (YoY) in 2021, while the value of digital transactions increased by a corresponding 153% YoY.   


“Given that HNB had already captured the lion’s share of the market in digital merchant acquisition even before the pandemic, we leveraged these experiences to ensure that even businesses which were initially unsure of digital payments were able to seamlessly adapt and integrate these technologies into their total business model. The results of these efforts are compelling as reflected in the massive uptake in digital payment options- both from customers and businesses,” Niranjan said.  


HNB IPG (Internet Payment Gateway) recorded a growth over 100% in merchants during the period, with businesses embracing the secure payment channel and services offered by the bank for online payments from any local or international debit, credit, VISA and MasterCard.  


Similarly, merchants improved their cashless payment options with HNB MOMO, especially for cash on delivery services. As a result, the mobile solution for electronic payment cards holds a 50% market share in low-cost mobile POS terminals in Sri Lanka.  


Such a rapid proliferation of digital payments creates a compelling financial incentive for almost any enterprise – particularly as an affinity for cashless transactions expands out of major urban centres and into all parts of the country.   


“Developments in cashless payments are still only emerging. However, technologies like tokenisation – technology at the heart of ride-hailing and food delivery apps – is likely to expand in the coming months as more local businesses launch dedicated apps with payment features built-in. This is another area in which we have supported some of the most successful tech-based enterprises in the country by enabling card details to be securely linked to convenient payment portals.  


“These dynamics will ultimately provide valuable and much-needed benefits for a broad spectrum of Sri Lankan enterprise - from small businesses and self-employed individuals to hospitality providers, large and small - and ultimately promote a broader and more resilient and equitable economic recovery. However, the barrier for entry into a digital transaction has never been lower, and our goal is to make sure that all Sri Lankan enterprises can compete in this new paradigm,” Niranjan concluded.  


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 was ranked among the World Top 1,000 Banks list compiled by the prestigious UK-based Banker Magazine. HNB has a national rating of AA- (lka) by Fitch Ratings (Lanka) Ltd.       


HNB was also declared Best Sub-Custodian Bank in Sri Lanka at the Global Finance Awards 2020, in addition to winning the coveted Best Retail Bank in Sri Lanka Award for the 11th time at the Asian Banker Awards 2020, in recognition of its sustainable growth and continuous improvements in processes, products and services amidst a challenging macroeconomic environment.