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Commercial Bank joins technology initiative for tea leaf suppliers in Sri Lanka

June, 13, 2016

Designated banking partner for country’s first Hybrid Debit Card coupled with Sony’s Near Field Communication technology

The Commercial Bank of Ceylon’s participation in a ground-breaking initiative in Sri Lanka’s tea plantation sector to automate the process of procurement of tea leaves and settlement for bought leaf will result in sophisticated technology and banking services reaching a largely underserved segment.

Sri Lanka’s largest private bank has been designated the Preferred Bank for the issue of the first Hybrid Debit Card coupled with Sony ‘FeliCa’ Near Field Communication (NFC) technology in the market, enabling its promoter Smart Metro (Pvt) Ltd. to deploy a Debit Card cum Identification Card for tea leaf suppliers.

Armed with these personalised cards linked to savings accounts at Commercial Bank, tea leaf suppliers can simply tap their cards on the data acquisition device to promptly identify each supplier through NFC technology and to obtain a detailed receipt for the weight of the leaves supplied. All data required for automatic calculation of the payments to leaf suppliers are instantly transmitted to a central server by the data acquisition device.

The server generates a file with fund transfer instructions, which will be forwarded to Commercial Bank to credit monies earned, to the accounts of the cardholders. The account holders may thereafter withdraw the money they require from the ATMs of the Bank or at branch counters. Alternatively they can also use the card to pay for purchase of goods and services.

“As a Bank that is committed to technology-enabled convenience, we are delighted to be the banking partner for this exciting new development,” Commercial Bank’s Managing Director/CEO Mr Jegan Durairatnam said. “It is always stimulating to push the boundaries of technology with ingenious new creations like hybrid cards, and for the Bank, there is the added satisfaction of reaching and encouraging savings to a new and economically-important segment.”

The Integrated Circuit Chip cards procured by Smart Metro carry properties for the payment card application as well as for the tea leaf collection system which is based on FeliCa technology. The NFC technology partner for Smart Metro in this venture is Sony Corporation, Japan.

Several plantation companies that purchase tea leaves from thousands of tea leaf suppliers have already expressed interest in migrating to the Smart Tea Procurement System that utilises this technology, the Bank said.

A Sri Lanka based international software development company, Smart Metro was founded at the beginning of 2011 and registered in 2013 by a team of enthusiastic specialists who wanted to introduce innovative NFC based IT products. The company has signed two landmark agreements with Sony Corporation and Fujisoft Inc., Japan to become Sri Lanka’s sole agent for the distribution and application of Sony’s Near Filed Communication Technology widely known as 'FeliCa' and Fujisoft 's Finger-vein Biometric Authentication technology.

The only Sri Lankan bank to be ranked among the Top 1000 banks of the world for five consecutive years, Commercial Bank operates a network of 250 branches in Sri Lanka and an ATM network of 626 terminals. The Bank has won multiple awards as Sri Lanka’s Best Bank, Best Trade Bank, Strongest Bank, Most Respected Bank from a number of local and international institutions and publications over several years. The Bank has also been adjudged one of Sri Lanka’s 10 best corporate citizens by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce for several years.

Commercial Bank’s overseas operations encompass Bangladesh, where the Bank operates 18 outlets and Myanmar, where it has a Representative Office in Yangon. The Bank will open a fully-fledged Tier I Bank in the Republic of Maldives in 2016. The Bank also recently received a license to operate a fully owned Money Transfer Operation in Italy.

Photo caption: Commercial Bank Managing Director/CEO Mr Jegan Durairatnam (left) makes a symbolic presentation of a hybrid debit card to the owner of a tea factory in the presence of representatives of Smart Metro.