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Organizational Culture is key for Sri Lanka’s HNB

The bank gives priority for creating a digital-first mindset among its employees and customers:

Sri Lanka’s Hatton National Bank, with its 255 plus branches and 800 ATMs, believes that culture in the organization and the mindsets of the team members are prime in digital transformation. The bank’s former Chief Technology and Digital Officer Rohan Buultjens has said it is not enough to simply ‘act’ digital, one to ‘think’ digital. He has elaborated his point in an interview in 2021 saying: “Just because you’re able to set up a façade where customer interfaces are digital, internally if you’re still running on paper files, and your people are not engaged with the systems you have set up, then seamless, frictionless digital experiences become impossible.”

Operating island wide through its branches, the bank is Sri Lanka’s largest private sector commercial bank, the first local bank in the island country to receive an international rating on par with the sovereign from Moody’s Investor Services


The bank’s journey towards digital has been a structured process. It had not just assessed its technology infrastructure, but analyzed and fine-tuned processes that covered front, middle and back-office functions. It also took feedback from customers and evolved and identified its tech-tools, especially those facing the customers. What this did for the bank was that it could understand minutely the customers’ needs and also how the customers interacted with the bank while obtaining services they required and how the bank responded to these requirements.

The bank also gave priority for creating a digital-first mindset in the organization and in spite of some resistance from the staff, it could make breakthroughs through training, discussions and acting on feedback from the stakeholders.

The bank has set up Digital Centres of Excellence, where all administrative and back-office functions are centralized. Most of the routine functions are automated, which saves on time and effort and branches are given the responsibility of building relationships, understanding customer requirements and getting rid of hurdles that the customers encountered in interacting with the bank. The bank has automated customer onboarding.


The bank has a digital platform for its SME customers – AppiGo. This provides small businesses an effective, low-cost route to speedily set up their own e-commerce websites. The bank claims this has helped to create a new breed of tech-savvy SMEs.

Asian Banker has recognized the bank on 9 occasions as the ‘Best Retail Bank in Sri Lanka’.

The bank has recently launched a novel IoT-enabled product, called HNB Fit, by partnering with Fitbit, Apple Watch and Jawbone. It is a mobile app that connects to one’s fitness devices as well as one’s bank account. It monitors a person’s steps through the data collected from the fitness device. Once he reaches his daily step target, his money will be transferred to a high-interest account. The app helps the bank to engage with digital-savvy customers and promote health and fitness among them.


The bank has revamped its payment app, SOLO, into a 2.0 version, which recorded $2.5 million in transaction value. It is today one of the sought-after payment solution in the country as customers and merchants can easily navigate the contactless transactions scenario. The bank also has a digital banking app, which enables a customer to manage all of his finances securely and conveniently using a mobile phone. Among the facilities that it offers are e-passbook, Peek Balance, which is viewing account balance without login, fund transfers in real time, view different accounts at a glance, biometrics for easy and secure log-in, and setting limits.

The bank has in 2021 implemented Finacle 10X, which enabled it to process various tasks and update databases based on the kind of operations performed. It introduced robotic process automation (RPA) for the retail business and automated chatbots as well as visual assistants on the websites. The RPA covers centralized retail operations and trade services, credit card bin balancing, ATM reimbursement, easy payment plan conversion, credit card short messaging service (SMS) alert registration, etc.

The bank has a partnership with Simpleworks Business Solutions to automate its support center operations with a view to delivering a superior customer support experience. The SimpleCRM solution has enabled the bank to have a faster, secure and comprehensive support center automation solution.

The bank strongly believes, as Rohan Buultjens said in his interaction, that when it comes to digitization there is no room for half-measures. To succeed, one has to take an all-in approach.

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This article has been compiled based on publicly available information on the web, particularly the bank’s own website.

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