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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2731

Sri Lanka’s first workforce smartcard matures to a dual swipe

Colombo, 11 May, (Asiantribune.com):

Sri Lanka’s pioneering workforce smartcard launched to honour its apparel workforce has matured to become the first ever dual swipe card in the country-and the Sri Lankan Minister of Commerce vows to safeguard its apparel exports from the looming Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

“I am pleased to witness the Ransalu Pranaama smartcard program now developing to the next stage since it was launched by me in October 2013. We need to be able to carefully address the new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement” said the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen on 9 May in Colombo.

• Apparel sector clinches Ransalu Pranama combo
• MasterCard powering transactions!
• ‘Honoring our apparel workers’-Rishad
• Sri Lanka’s first dual interface card as well
• ‘Will safeguard apparels from TPP’-Rishad
• Ransalu card NFC equipped
• 60000 apparel employees reaping FMCG benefits

Minister Bathiudeen was addressing the launch of Ransalu Pranama Combo Card jointly by Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) Sri Lanka, Channel 17, Mobitel and Commercial Bank at Cinnamon Grand, Colombo on 9 May. At the session were Chairman of JAAF Noel Piyathilake, Secretary General of JAAF Tuli Cooray, CEO of Channel 17 Mr Jumar Preena and top reps from apparel sector, banking and finance, FMCG and electronic merchant firms. This was the first ever smart card for a Sri Lankan workforce.

At the time of its launch in 2013 by Minister Bathiudeen, it introduced the “NFC touch technology” a new form of electronic payments in Sri Lanka. Upon producing this card to any of merchant’s stores the card holder (apparel employee) can receive many benefits such as discounts and bargains on top of the already advertised discounts by the merchant. The 2013 pilot project involved 10000 apparel employees of all ranks.

The card received a major boost when top apparel exporters joined it by the end of 2014. Continuing on its new technology efforts a “smartphone app” was launched through “Google Play” in October 2015.
Today the card has nearly 60000 apparel employees as subscribers and enlist 40 merchants. The new Ransalu Pranama Combo launched on 9 May has transformed from its initial, “loyalty” card outlook to a dual interface “loyalty-cum-debit” card-becoming the first such dual swipe in Sri Lanka’s plastic card culture. The once humble Ransalu Card, in its latest transformation, is partnered by MasterCard Worldwide for its transactions via Commercial Banks of Sri Lanka.

“I stress that this is not just a welfare card for apparel workers but a national effort to honour the apparel sector for its contribution. I commend the CEO of Channel 17 Mr Jumar Preena who almost single-handedly from the very start worked to make this initiative a reality and also praise JAAF for their commitment” said Minister Bathiudeen.

He added: “I believe our committed apparel employees well deserve such an initiative. Thanks to the efforts of the half a million workforce our Apparel sector has today become Sri Lanka’s most dynamic export and global branding success. I believe it is time we compensate our workforce since their committed efforts are behind this global brand success. Last year our apparel exports came close to five billion dollars for the first time. While this success is great news we need to understand that there are challenges ahead for this sector and should get ready. As I recently announced at the National Chamber of Commerce that when we work on our apparel sector, we need to be able to carefully address the new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. Under the TPP tax free garment export opportunities are made available to our competitor countries in the South East Asian region.”

“We in the government understand that TPP is a trade challenge in the future and are currently studying it. TPP is not a trade challenge only for Sri Lanka but it even affects trading systems of its own twelve member countries. Since no detailed information is available on TPP for us to understand its impact in a clear way we need to continuously watch for latest developments in this regard. However we can generally expect some major aspects that could change. For example at present it appears that copyright and trademark could become a key aspect in TPP. Therefore it would be advisable for Lankan apparel designers and their designs to consider international copyright protection requirements for their designs in the future. I am pleased to say that the government is willing to support the Lankan apparel sector to safeguard its international copyrights and to sustain its competitiveness if necessary. More importantly as we get closer to various new FTAs such as the China FTA Singapore FTA etc under the economic vision of the unity government of HE the President Maithripala Sirisena and Hon Ranil Wickremesinghe the TPP may not be such a big worry or a challenge. Once the FTAs are implemented and when we start collecting their trade benefits today’s challenges from TPP may not be as strong as we expected them to be. Also given the competitive and dynamic nature of our apparel manufacturers I am confident that we could overcome TPP effects especially in the medium to long term.Initiatives such as this “Ransalu Pranama Combo Card” launched today are among ways that we are strengthening this important sector to face future challenges,” Minister Rishad Bathiyutheen said.

Sri Lanka’s apparel exports in 2015 totaled $4.5 Bn. US, UK and Italy were the leading buyers of Lankan apparels in 2015.

- Asian Tribune -

Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen (second from right) joined by Executive Director-MasterCard South East Asia Vikah Varma (second from left),  Commercial Bank MD Jegan Durairatnam (far right) and Chairman of JAAF Noel Piyathilake (far left) launch Ransalu Pranama Combo card at Cinnamon Grand, Colombo on 09 May.
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