Sri Lanka's best domestic bank 2020: NDB Bank
Sri Lanka’s banks have had a tough year: the Easter Sunday bomb attacks in April 2019, which killed more than 250 people, disrupted daily life, hit tourism and hurt economic growth overall, while a presidential election later in the year put a further brake on activity. So it is all the more impressive that a number of contenders for this award kept their businesses growing. Of those, NDB Bank stood out as the best domestic bank in the country.
NDB, led by chief executive Dimantha Seneviratne, celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. The bank has grown: it now has 112 branches and 100 ATMs, and for the first time its total assets have surpassed SLRs500 billion ($2.77 billion); annual growth of 12% lifted the figure to SLRs530 billion. Profit before tax was SLRs10.1 billion, up 6% year on year, marking a record for the bank.
However, profit after tax fell 8%, but this was in keeping with other banks in the country and reflected lower economic activity, deteriorating credit quality and the higher taxes imposed on the banking industry.
While non-performing loans rose across the country, NDB contained its NPL ratio to 4.77%, as of the end of December.
After surviving a rough time in 2019, NDB is well positioned to succeed as Sri Lanka’s economic growth picks up.
The bank’s leadership is quick to point out that it’s easy to hide behind regulatory hurdles or the slowness of Sri Lankan people to adapt to new financial technology, but the onus is on the banks to innovate in a way that meets customers’ needs. NDB has certainly been a leader on the digital front, with a realistic approach to tackling the challenges of implementing new technology.
It has watched the efforts of its domestic and international rivals to ensure it does not make the same mistakes. Its efforts have paid off: 71% of its transactions performed in 2019 came through digital platforms, and while digital deposits are still low, at less than 25%, NDB says it will focus on increasing this number in the coming year.