Commercial Bank Celebrates Century of Success
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Commercial Bank PLC. Founded as just a single branch in 1920, Commercial Bank has grown tenfold, earning numerous awards and acclaim. In 2019 alone, the company received 53 awards including Sri Lanka’s “Bank of the Year” award. In an interview with Mr. S Renganathan, Managing Director of Commercial Bank PLC, we learn more about the company’s success and its plans moving forward.
“Commercial Bank possesses a rich history dating back to 1920,” says Mr.Renganathan, “when Eastern Bank was established in Sri Lanka, along with an unbroken and unprecedented tradition of excellence in service that has continued to this day. The bank has been instrumental in changing the landscape of banking in the country in numerous ways and has emerged as a benchmark bank in Sri Lanka. For over 100 years, Commercial Bank has successfully adapted itself to innovate and serve its customers with world class service, whilst keeping its fundamental values intact. As a Bank that supports a significant portion of the Banking population of the country, we are proud of our contribution to the economy of Sri Lanka.”
According to Mr. Renganathan, the product portfolio of Commercial Bank is varied and diverse, built over a period of time and taking market needs, consumer needs, and company growth prospects into consideration. “From large conglomerates that have complex business needs such as offshore banking services, to small businesses with unique needs, to retail customers who are aspiring to realize their financial goals, our product and services portfolios are extensive,” he says. “We strive to identify the needs of customers and cater to that particular need through constant interaction and support.”
To offer increased convenience and access, Commercial Bank takes a fast – tracked approach to digitization of its services. “Commercial Bank’s approach to digitization has always been based on the significance of its usage to our customers. What matters to us is that our customers experience utmost convenience through the digitization,” says Mr. Renganathan. Commercial Bank also employs various digital marketing strategies to engage customers, going beyond just business transactions. “We create new digital journeys that provide utmost convenience to the customers through online and mobile banking, automated banking centres, digital experience zones, ePassbook accounts, and social media platforms to engage customers through easily accessible and user-friendly content.”
The bank’s focus, notes Mr. Renganathan, is not limited to just retail customers, but offers various digital solutions for corporate customers as well. Paymaster, Commercial Bank’s corporate payment platform, allows users to affect a multitude of payments such as salaries, bonuses, building rent, utility payments,statutory payments such as EPF and ETF, as well as customs payments at a click of a button. “Additionally,” he says, “Commercial Bank offers sophisticated digital payment methods such as QR code enabled payments and streamlined POS solutions for small businesses and web integration.”
In 2018, Commercial Bank launched Sri Lanka’s first digital banking account, “Flash,” targeting the younger, tech savvy generation of customers. According to Mr. Renganathan, Commercial Bank will keep developing their products to suit customers’ evolving technological requirements. “Today,” he says, “usage of digital applications has become apart of life not limited to just millennials. Being mindful of this fact, Commercial Bank invests in technology which is relevant to the customer with a view to enhance the convenience for a changing lifestyle.”
In addition to its digital platforms, Commercial Bank is also helping transform more traditional methods of banking in Sri Lanka. “We realized that this part of the world is still heavily dependent on traditional banking models,” says Mr. Renagathan, “especially in suburbs and outstation areas. Visiting a Bank is not only a transactional thing for the customers, and it has social elements tied to it. Due to these factors, we realized that a direct transformation into a virtual environment may not be well-received. Instead,” he continues, “we launched a semi-automated approach where the branches have cash deposit and withdrawal machines, cheque deposit machines, and regular ATMs in a separate area outside. These machines gradually convert simple inquiries and transactions done over the counter to digital transactions.”
Additionally, Commercial Bank also is establishing Automated Banking Centres (ABCs) in strategic locations as part of its plan to gradually transform the traditional banking model. “In this digital age,” says Mr. Renagathan, “automation is crucial in driving both operational excellence and cost savings. The bank’s future plans involve continued investments in digitization, as well as an emphasis being placed on artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, and data mining. Last, but certainly not least,” adds Mr. Renagathan, “automation paves the way for front line staff to concentrate on service excellence and innovative financial solutions.”
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