Lanka’s first workforce  smart card coming


The first ever smart card for a Sri Lankan workforce is fitted with no less than NFC touch technology-yet another new leap in electronic payments in Sri Lanka. And the state sector outlay for the initiative is a surprisingly minimal of $7600! "I am pleased that our hard work of past several months to finalise this smart card has shown good results, with the lowest costs! We thank our partners Channel 17 and Mobiltel. It is time we compensate our workforce well, and we are starting with the workforce that makes Sri Lanka a global brand- Sri Lanka apparel employees" said a satisfied Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka on 29 October in Colombo.

Minister Bathiudeen was addressing the special meeting held at his Ministry on 29 October with his top officials including Anura Siriwardena (Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Commerce), apparel sector reps and other stakeholders to acknowledge and inspect the "Pranama Smart Card"-the Privilege card for Sri Lanka’s 350000 strong apparel workforce of all ranks, jointly by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Channel 17, and Mobitel.

The card initially will enlist 16 private merchants-such as Singer, Unilever, Cargills, Mobitel, DSI, Abans, Sampath Bank, NOLIMIT, Hutch, Delmege, TVS, MRF Tyres, Rainco, Anton and ICL, among others -to give special rates on their products and services to 350000 strong apparel workforce here.

Upon producing the card at any of these merchant’s retail stores/sales points, the apparel employee becomes entitled to additional discounts and bargains (ranging from 2% to 15%) on top of the already declared/advertised discounts or rates by the merchant for the general consumer market.

For example, at Sampath Bank, card holding apparel employee would be given 1% extra interest on their savings in addition to the prevailing rates made available to regular customers, 10% additional discounts by Ceylinco Insurance in addition to rates of regular consumers, and 7.5% additional discount for shoes at DSI. The card will use the advanced closed system of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology by Mobitel–in that, the transactions takes place as soon as the card touches the surface of Point of Sale (POS) Terminal of the vendor/supermarket! The closed system NFC platform for this card is provided by the Lankan telco Mobitel.

"We have secured agreement with the first 16 merchants for the next three years. And we will expand this number later on. The card can support the most frequent consumer need-the day-to-day shopping and FMCG needs of apparel employees. The benefits of the card are not limited to the card holding apparel employee only! It can be used by all members of his/her family. The pilot project involving 10000 apparel employees of all ranks is now scheduled to start in mid-November in five selected apparel firms in Kandy and Kurunegala Districts. After testing is over, we expect to equip the entire 350000 apparel workforce of the country with the final version of Pranama Privilege Card by November 2014. We thank the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Minister as well as Mobitel for their partnership in this"said an upbeat Jumar Preena, developer of the project –who is also the CEO of Channel 17, a fully integrated mar-com agency in Colombo.

The apparel sector immediately lauded praise on Minister Bathiudeen. "We thank you for the on-going leadership and encouragement to finish this project and at this level of technology" said a beaming Secretary-General of JAAF Tuli Cooray, addressing Minister Bathiudeen. "As a result, today we are able to introduce the first workforce discount card in the country" Cooray stressed.

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