Lakshman Silva, a veteran banker of DFCC, shares his journey, highlighting the revolutions of their archetypal services within the years. Embarking into a burgeoning start, DFCC had mapped out a business philosophy for the subsequent ten years. Then, gaining insight from staff members at every level, the DFCC employees collaboratively voted for a change in the banking procedures, deviating from the traditional banking systems. “We decided to create a different niche”, he stated, “We made an audacious goal in 2018 to transform our services into a customer-centric and a digitally enabled bank.”
Through their new philosophy, DFCC initiated many services to breathe life into their digital initiative. From working groups to employees with different levels of expertise, the dedication was contributed to livening their expectations. With constant monitoring of the demands and possibilities, DFCC launched Sri Lanka’s first virtual wallet by a bank, boosting the advantages of innovative banking. Over time other digital options like DFCC iConnect for business transactions and Automated Call Centre for customer inquiries were introduced and executed, broadening their services.
Flourishing throughout 2018, DFCC stepped into 2019 with a series of hopes and expectations. Nevertheless, with the sudden change of events due to the Easter Sunday attacks in 2019 and the unprecedented pandemic in 2020, the suspension was unavoidable to most businesses in Sri Lanka. Yet, running on a pre-planned schedule, DFCC successfully adapted to a digital transformation involving a surge of changes into the internal system. Improvising fully automated technology, Digital account opening processes, Robotic solutions for processing etc. As a result, DFCC was able to navigate its services through the hardships of the lockdown. “Amidst the calamities, we were able to initiate a comparatively higher number of digital initiatives than our competitor banks in Sri Lanka,” says Lakshman. Crowding the efforts and contributions from all the team members, DFCC successfully transformed into a completely digital bank quite impressively.
Elaborating on the Easter Sunday attacks and the unfolding events of the Covid Pandemic, Lakshman claims that it was challenging but was not unexpected, referring to the level of preparedness they had developed foreseeing the possibilities of a lockdown. Giving DFCC a forewarning in these situations, they concentrated on handling a broader range of aspects like moratoriums and rescheduling extensions. Senior management and other workgroups functioned faster to introduce an ‘Innovative hub’ within the banking arena, placing DFCC as the first bank to implement such modifications. Lakshman describes, “Unlike previous days, now work has transformed widely. Meetings are scheduled in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings. Furthermore, the long travelling hours are reduced and focused on productivity”
Lakshman also shares, “from 2018 onwards, especially during the pandemic period, our services stepped into Google platforms”. When elucidating the conversion of all communication channels into Google, he includes the significant activities like customer on-boarding, which are now uplifted into Google, bonding with external sources to regulate and refine the services they provided digitally. He believes that contriving digital products and services during a different circumstance might have been challenging compared to the pandemic, stating “People accepted digitised products more swiftly during the pandemic”. Although this transformation was previously opted by DFCC, it was impossible due to the strict protocols of the regulatory framework, which during the pandemic supported contrastingly granting complete approvals. Lakshman sums up his digitised journey in DFCC, stating, “it was challenging, but we were quick to implement strategies and use the workforce more productively.”
As a veteran banker, Lakshman shares that Sri Lanka’s digital transitioning process is comparatively faster amongst Asian countries. “We might be slower against the world, but faster among the Asian Banking Community. Instigating ATMs, cash deposit machines, cash recyclers, Sri Lankan clearing systems and methodology, credit card and cheque operations, fund transfer mechanisms like RTGS and CEFTS are few to name” when comparing the banking position of Sri Lanka in Asia. Before the pandemic, most services were physical and functioned within locations. However, with the suspension of business, DFCC, like many other banks, incorporated the ‘Banking on Wheels’ option, providing utmost convenience to customers at home. Moreover, extending these services to all banking individuals in Sri Lanka, DFCC installed banking facilities to accommodate ‘banking needs’ during the pandemic, lessening the burdens faced by citizens. This is a unique decision made within DFCC during the pandemic.
Safety measures and protocols were not left behind. Lanka QR Codes were presented in possible avenues to reduce the physical contact. “People are not willing to touch screens, visit business premises or even ATMs. So QR is a good option and is moving fast among citizens”, Lakshman states when speaking of the high paced digital changes occurring among the citizens. He further adds, “Customers are accepting and embracing the digital phenomena. Therefore, the transformation to digital is fast!”
Lakshman clarifies the persisting falsely interpreted notion on the possibility of digitalisation only in Colombo, the Western province, and the suburbs. DFCC has proven their customers all around the island to be engaged in digital banking compared to the past. Tying legislation and regulatory knots, the future of digitalisation will escalate massively, forming a basis from banking transformations to crypto-currency. This was not considered in the past, and Lakshman believes that Sri Lanka can leap further in competing with the international banks at the rate of current digitalisation taking place within the country.