Interview of Chaminda Senewiratne, head of Digital Banking, Seylan Bank PLC.
- Could you briefly explain what “Seylan merchant portal” is?
“Seylan merchant portal” is a Seylan Bank developed easy plug and play online payment gateway for small and mid-level business owners. The portal allows merchants to collect online payments through their website allowing them to pre collect the payments.
“Seylan merchant portal” is an ideal easy setup system for lodge/homestay owners, salons, and cash on delivery small or medium companies, budding entrepreneurs and Facebook merchants.
In a traditional payment gateway the business owner has to depend on the expertise of a developer for the integration. The “Seylan merchant portal” is a ready to go system with your own logo saving hours of development and testing allowing business owners to go live in a few days.
The system allows merchants big or small to add customers, services and generate the invoice with an online payment link. The link could be either by email or SMS.
A simple piece of copy paste code would also allow merchants to have the payment link on their own website.
This all could be done with no or minimum effort and no technical knowledge.
- What inspired Seylan Bank to take this industry initiative?
The complex development and integration of the traditional payment gateway only focuses on business with capacity to do so. While researching the market we realized that none of the financial institutions or the FinTech companies focuses on an easy signup system for small merchants.
From the bank’s vision, we are really aggressively focused on the SME’s. We want the small merchants to be a part of the ecosystem, and also from a country perspective we see a lot of traction in this area.
Based on this need was born a simple system “Seylan merchant portal”.
- Who will be the beneficiaries of this product?
“Seylan merchant portal” is ideal for budding entrepreneurs who don’t have an accounting team and complex operations to sell their goods and services online. As the customer would pay for the products and services upfront as a merchant you don’t need to have a cash-on delivery collector.
Traditionally the collector also plays the role of a delivery would call the customer a few times, agree on a time and place for the transaction. This method is time consuming and costly. With Seylan merchant portal’s online payment as a merchant you only need to focus on the delivery of goods and services.
Apart from goods and services sold this also could be used to collect membership subscription for clubs, etc. Anything you could think of.
- This is an industry first product, how do you expect the industry to react?
Yes, it is the first in the industry. Many may not even have heard of this system. We think this solution is unique and want to take the message across.
We invite every merchant to give this system a go.
We have priced the subscription of the system in a way where you can make an upfront payment and maintain a low merchant discount rate or a lesser upfront payment with a high merchant discount rate.
The idea behind this was to invite anyone with a small Facebook store. All you need is to sign up as a merchant at Seylan, get approved and accept online payment for services.
- What will be the next phase of merchant portal and how will it empower the SME sector in Sri Lanka?
The second stage of the system is to build an ecosystem around different industries.
This also would include adding-on plugins for specific industries. For example a hotel, or a home stay which prefers to have an online booking we plan to have an easy plug and play booking engine plugin.
We’ve also thought about multicurrency and custom developments with API’s.
We believe this will enable the use of the payment services in mobile applications. We will start taking a look at from lower end of the market all the way up to top end of the market depending on what their requirements are. That is what we have in store for SME if you look at their specific areas.
- What are the steps to get onboard with Seylan Merchant Portal?
For a merchant to sign up for this system is an easy process. Traditionally you’ll have to visit the bank branch, fill up forms, applications and wait for approval and integration. This would require patience and consumes time.
On the “Seylan merchant portal” you can sign up for the system online like you would sign up for any digital services. Form days we’ve reduced it for a day.
Once the documents are submitted, Seylan bank does the basic validations and background check of the customer and only one visit to the branch is required for signature verification.
If you are an existing customer of Seylan Bank, it’s even better, as we have your details. Within three to four hours you can have your payment gateway up and running ready to accept payments.
- Who are eligible to avail this facility?
When considering eligibility, who are the merchants?
You need to have a valid business registration. In the future, apart from the cards based transactions we plan on enabling online transactions within the merchant account.
In that case don’t need to be a registered business, but still you need to have a certain documentation to prove that you are the owner of the said business.
- What are the advantages of this product when compared to Internet Payment Gateway?
Internet Payment Gateway is just a service. It allows you to accept Master, Visa and other cards through.
An interface that the Internet Payment Gateway provider gives us, but in order to use the service the merchant has to integrate and input complicated technical configurations. This would require the help of a developer and is not a plug and play solution.
Now this compared to our solution, there is zero integration required by the merchant in this merchant portal. All they have to do is to sign up as our client.
Once registered and approved, with a few inputs here and there with no technical requirements the system could be used.
The easy system with accounting, allows the merchants to focus on their customers and business rather than dealing with complex technicalities.