SDB bank

Q: How would you describe the banking sector’s performance during the pandemic?
A: The banking sector faced many challenges. However, it coped comparatively well overall, predominantly because of the strong regulatory framework, which upheld the resilience of the sector as it evolved rapidly to adopt new technology, and new and creative service offerings devised to provide seamless services to customers amid the pandemic.

SDB bank was able to adapt swiftly to maintain the continuity of its service to customers through enhanced traditional and digital channels. Today, we have the capacity to onboard customers through digital platforms without them having to visit a branch.

This has proved useful in mainstreaming lower to mid-level rural customers while digitally enabling those from remote areas who may have never dreamt of banking through their mobile phones.

Another critical factor in the success of SDB bank’s journey has been its non-performing loans (NPLs) management – our ratio is 4.5 percent, which is one of the best in the sector.

Q: What would you say are the factors that create trust among your customers?
A: SDB bank was formed with the intention of uplifting the rural segments of society, an objective that remains intact although our scope has broadened by servicing the SME segment, which comprises 52 percent of the national economy.

We partner with many leading entities such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka), running mentoring programmes for selected SMEs in small towns, teaching them basic accounting and other technical aspects of business.

The bank has introduced many digital financial solutions to rural communities to enhance productivity and efficiency, which otherwise would be limited to more affluent segments. Products have been tailor-made to support senior citizens and women entrepreneurs in addition to providing them with relevant business knowledge.

Our commitment to serving the bank’s purpose, and the fact that we have become a part of customers’ life journeys over and beyond their financial needs, has helped us gain their trust.

SDB bank has also gained the trust of its valued investors. Our recently concluded rights issue – conducted amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – raised a substantial Rs. 1.5 billion apart from creating capital market history by becoming the first Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) listed entity to successfully host and complete a rights issue digitally.

Q: And what role can brand investments play in accelerating business recovery?
A: In terms of brand investment, it is always more important to understand human behaviour and how it’s evolving, to conduct research and see where consumers are heading. This makes it easier to devise better brand marketing strategies.

A brand represents your business in the minds of customers – and as such, how we manage it is critical to staying relevant and agile to cater to ever-changing customer needs.

Q: How can corporates build brand loyalty through experiences?
A: As a relatively young bank, we have a very meaningful history because of the purpose of our existence, which is serving rural markets.

Even when it comes to our branch locations, we’re also present in smaller towns where other banks usually don’t operate. For us, it’s important to maintain consistency of the experience at all the touch points through which customers interact with the brand.

Our digital payment app UPay is playing a leading role in transforming the customer experience with the bank.

Anyone can become a customer while at home by simply opening a bank account through this app. They can conduct all their financial transactions through it; and most importantly, they can add multiple bank accounts or credit cards even if they’re not customers of SDB bank.

As a result, we make life much easier for our customers by enabling them to perform most of their financial needs through the app, which enhances their brand experience and builds loyalty.

Q: Should brands have a social and environmental conscience?
A: Yes, of course. Being socially responsible is critical to earning the respect of customers. While creating a huge impact, we remain mindful about being honest.

In a world where viral marketing has come to the forefront and everyone is trying hard to grab attention, it’s important to understand the limits there are and be responsible marketers.

We are also actively promoting sustainable banking, and have plans to expand our role in financing green and sustainable projects.


Hasitha Samarasinghe

Head of Marketing