Card Push

Dec 10, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Sampath Bank is pushing strongly into credit cards and is already on the third slot and is on track to top 100,000 cards early in 2011, with overall credit conditions also picking up, a top official said. At the moment Standard Chartered and HSBC are the two biggest players in the 800,000 card market in the island. The foreign banks created a market that was ignored by local lenders for decades. Sampath was set up in 1986.

Sampath went into credit cards actively two years ago and has issued around 80,000 cards, according to officials.

“We took aggressive measures in 2010 to actively compete and get a sizeable market share in the credit card market,” chief executive Harris Premaratne said.

“Hitherto none of the local banks were challenging the foreign banks that were dominating the credit card industry in Sri Lanka. We are on course to become the largest credit card issuer in another two years time.”

Premaratne said the banks has set a trend in not charging a late payment fee and cut 28 different charges to less than half a dozen.

The bank had also introduced an upmarket ‘infinity’ which he said came to