Striding up within Sri Lanka’s Banking Hierarchy – Director/Chief Executive Officer of DFCC, Thimal Perera

As the Bank looks to fortify its position as the leader in innovative​ & ​​sustainable banking, Thimal Perera Director/Chief Executive Officer at DFCC Bank elaborates ​​on the bank’s efforts in pushing the boundaries of becoming one of the most customer centric & digitally enabled banks in the country.

Extending these two significant facets across the Bank, Thimal believes it can be “a multi-pronged approach to adapt and build upon this positioning which is what will set DFCC Bank apart from the rest”. He further reasons, “The changes we make should encapsulate our goal of being the most customer-centric and digitally-enabled bank by the year 2025. As DFCC Bank further journeys into this rapidly growing digital world, customer experience will be a vital strategy. With the assistance of Big Data and Data Analytics, we will be able to create a holistic banking experience by identifying products and services that are suited to specific customers”. 

 ​Holding a prominent position amongst other commercial banks, the success of DFCC Bank is widely attributed to the progressive foresight of the organization. Maintaining a dynamic atmosphere by identifying the essential strategies to progress in the future, DFCC has accumulated 66 years of prominence and industr​y ​ knowledge to address ​the many challenges that are faced in the financial sector. “We move forward with adaptability and customer-centricity at the forefront of each business process”, contends Thimal, whilst citing the recent achievements in the aspects of digital transformation and customer convenience.

​”The adoption of digital capabilities and products has surged. Not merely registering for online and digital channels, customers have increased the usage of these channels including online banking, DFCC iconnect, the DFCC Pay and the DFCC Virtual ​ Wallet Apps.​ Previously we had high registrations but adoption and usage was low. This has completely changed, and I see that trend continuing as people do realize the value of being able to transact with the bank remotely; at anytime from anywhere by not having to physically visit the branch to do their banking.”

Thimal briefs on the upcoming developments and engagements at DFCC, to achieve the vision in transforming towards the most customer-centric and digitally enabled bank as it looks to launch a wealth of consumer-friendly innovations to shape the future of their banking services.

“Our new core banking system has been a monumental initiative in this regard, as it has now laid the foundation for our journey in becoming a digitally driven customer-centric organization”, he affirmed while emphasizing DFCC’s bold initiatives, making them the first bank to launch the NF2F -non-face-to-face customer on boarding initiative. He further continues, “We’ve tapped into a service that greatly benefits the customers in the new normal and expect the trend to grow further”

DFCC is known for introducing groundbreaking solutions catering to their clients’ needs to create a stronger entailment towards banking. Enumerating this notion is the Payments and Cash Management solution offered by DFCC that caters to the SME and corporate customers via their DFCC iConnect platform. “DFCC Bank is proud to have been named Euromoney’s Market Leader in Cash Management by being recognised internationally through the prestigious Euromoney Awards 2021 – a reflection of our unflinching commitment to bringing Sri Lanka a digitally empowered banking experience, second to none through our Cash Management proposition”

 Thimal adds that as a bank that’s transforming via digital innovations, DFCC is also focused on expanding the accessibility of digital payments through platforms such as LankaQR and M-Visa

Describing his strong belief in the significance of Big Data and Data Analytics, Thimal elaborates on the forthcoming impact on the developments in the Banking industry. “Big Data is not simply confined to just customer research, but uses advanced analytic techniques against large, diverse data sets to uncover patterns, correlations and other insights that improve business decision making and performance”, he adds.

Our products are made to suit the specific needs of our customers. For example the DFCC Virtual Wallet App enables digital payments and fund transfers through mobile devices. The DFCC website is one of the prominent trilingual websites available in the country, enabling online account opening and other banking services in just a few clicks. He adds, “Further adding to the list of the tailor-made solution is DFCC Chatz, which is an AI-enabled chat-bot which allows customers to interact with the bank in real-time”. The Bank’s website also incorporates various tools such as the Income Tax Calculator, Home Loan calculator, FD calculator, and Personal Loan calculator etc., to provide customized information.

Another initiative recently launched was DFCC Aloka; a customized financial proposition focused on the needs of the female segment in the country to recognize and empower women to achieve their aspirations through financial and non-financial benefits.

The Bank’s latest initiative is “DFCC Agile” which is its innovation hub. Situated within the bank’s premises this Innovation Centre of Excellence will develop an innovation road map with external partners and staff through multiple iterations and reviews on an ongoing basis. This process will facilitate the outcome of many out of the box initiatives that will be taken to market as new financial propositions.

Functioning as an agile strategic think tank and a creative engine, DFCC Agile’s operations will trickle down throughout the organizational structure acting as a hub for incubation and testing. This will ensure that new and innovative ideas, products, services, and design thinking principles will go through an innovation management process prior to implementation.

With every bold decision come attached challenges as well. Thimal shares the lessons learnt during the Covid-19 pandemic, altering the banking industry’s plans, decisions, and goals. He addresses the changing requirements & adaptability within DFCC during Covid-19 which will be one of the significant factors in the years to come. “Going forward our ability to adapt to the situation and to be swift in creating and implementing an appropriate strategy is very important. One of the main challenges that the banking industry will face will be to provide timely support provided to borrowers affected by the pandemic,” he adds. Working true to the slogan, a ‘Bank for Everyone’, DFCC Bank implemented prompt measures to assist in providing concessions to affected borrowers both within & outside the CBSL’s directive. However, he explains, that there is much to be done to ensure we work alongside our customers and hand hold until they make a full recovery from the effects of the pandemic.

Thimal shows confidence in his decision to adapt to a long-term strategy whilst ensuring the sustainability of these plans.

DFCC’s Sustainability Strategy envisions it becoming one of the leading banks that will contribute towards greater resilience for all its stakeholders.  This includes creating Resilient Businesses that contribute to sustainable economic growth by extending support to Green Financing and Sustainable and Social Entrepreneurs.  The Bank also seeks to minimize its own impacts for greater Resilience,’ by increasing its own efficiency in the use of resources like energy and paper as well as reducing its overall environmental footprint.  Further, the Bank seeks to contribute towards ‘Resilient Communities’ by developing a sustainable culture to ensure staff and customer wellbeing. 

Possessing an extensive knowledge both in local and international banks overlooking  a number of different areas from SME and retail including credit cards to digital transformation amongst others, Thimal is confident in achieving  the goals set out as he steers the bank into to the future.   He also commented on the dedication and commitment of the staff and will incorporate a strong bond within the bank to better serve their customers and all stakeholders.

Thimal is confident of the future of the industry and is looking to lead DFCC to become one of the leading players in the financial landscape of Sri Lanka.

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