Cash is king. This is true of Sri Lanka and many other South Asian countries. However, this is slowly changing. According to the Central Bank, there are 1.3 million credit cards and 17.7 million debit cards. Last year, the total value of these digital transactions (excluding POS and ATM withdrawals) by these cards was Rs. 270 billion.
“This year, we are confident the amount will exceed Rs. 300 billion,” said Anthony Watson – Visa Country Manager for Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Some of the key sectors that would drive this growth in digital transactions are tourism, apparel, and ICT. Such sectors show promise of many opportunities to expand e-commerce.
Additionally, traditional exports such as tea and coconut are also exploring new markets, which would help boost digital transactions. Anthony went on to say, “Sri Lanka is experiencing a growth in digital payment. It is not something in the years to come, but it is something citizens and businesses are experiencing right now.”
He added that “Various business models and apps being used are going to change the landscape for payments in Sri Lanka. There is likely to be a surge of growth in digital payments in this manner.” And much of this growth in digital payments is thanks to four million people using the internet. Particularly through smartphones, as Sri Lanka’s high mobile penetration rate, which is at 92% shows.
However, cash is still king. While digital payments are on the rise, cash is still king. As such, greater accessibility is critical for Sri Lanka to seize these opportunities. This includes accessibility to globally established digital transaction platforms such as PayPal.
Without out proper accessibility, Sri Lanka won’t be able to truly grasp the opportunities of a cashless future. To that end, Anthony shared that Visa working with the government, merchants, and financial institutions. The purpose of these partnerships is to further increase the growth of digital payments in Sri Lanka.
“The future lies in combining technology and access.” – Anthony Watson, Country Manager of Visa for Sri Lanka & Maldives
Anthony went on to say, “The digital transformation is bringing Sri Lankans closer to one another. The future lies in combining technology and access.” Ultimately, Sri Lanka is making slow but steady progress towards a cashless future. However, we could and should be heading there a lot faster.