Friday, December 16, 2011

Personal Banking in Sri Lanka : Whats the best bank for you?

I was inspired to write this after two conversations - one on how much young professionals save and the second about whats the best bank specially in terms of internet banking. This is a crucial decision specially for young professionals like you and me and i'm blogging for all of our benefit.

In my opinion - the best bank for someone depends on following personal factors which should be assessed individually.


1. Location of branches
Even in the internet banking conversation i said - you cant do everything online. There are must-do in branches things like cheque deposits and better-to-do things like money transfer to other accounts. For this, the location of branches are key. And consider the two aspects like how close the nearest branch to both home and where you work/study. ATM network is also a factor - For e.g. Commercial bank boasts it has the largest ATM network in Sri Lanka. You can get money from any VISA ATM but it costs you something like Rs.50 extra. So better stick to a bank with a good ATM network.

2. Banking hours of the bank
It's really annoying when the bank is open only when you are supposed to be at work or classes. many banks have the holiday banking facility. For e.g. Commercial bank has holiday banking centres in super markets, Sampath has two 365 day banks which are open till 10PM. The state banks are usually open half day on Saturdays.

The customer service and other features & facilities of service are also important in todays hi-tech era.

3. Customer Service
Customer service is very good in multinational and private banks and is relatively lethargic in state banks. But we see state banks like BOC improving over time. Alternatively - state banks have very low costs like banking charges and loan interest rates whereas private banks charge higher. Following is a chart of service vs cost of banking.

Good example is Pan Asia bank who charge me (I had to forcefully open an account to pay for an exam - Never used them afterwards) like Rs.50 a month saying account charges.

4. Facilities/features of service
New facilities like internet banking and mobile banking are really cool and you can save lots of time and money by using them. Frankly i don't know the features in other banks, but i find Sampath Vishwa really helpful. You can pay all your bills and can even transfer money to other Sampath accounts with a matter of few clicks. I heard with NDB you can even transfer money to other bank accounts. This kind of facilities are very important and you should do a thorough analysis depending on your needs.

5. Other needs and wants
Savings account is usually the most basic needs of a modern lifestyle. Many go for credit cards (Arguable - specially with @udithaumesh - Lets discuss in another blog post) and loans. Getting a loan from the bank you have dealt with is usually easier. And you have the option of repaying the loan with internet banking. Even credit cards can be paid by your savings account. So consider your future plans like getting a personal loan or a vehicle loan (In a separate blog post i will compare leasing products in Sri Lanka) or going for credit facility.

Let me come up with an analysis of the above factors in the current banks, But that needs lots of feedback from you all. All of the above, specially the chart carries lots of assumptions and was written with my knowledge only. I'm sure you can give lots of feedback on your own banks. Please feel free to comment below so someone reading can make an informed choice about his/her personal banking.


  1. I am satisfied with the service of Sampath bank, (it should be, as my fiancée works there :D) except for their slow procedure of resetting the login credentials of Internet Banking account.

  2. I enjoy the facilities offered by Commercial Bank better than other banks here in Sri Lanka. This is the main reason why I have an account there. I especially like the Kandy branch and Ratnapura branch since most of their employees are quite friendly :)

  3. @pravin - That's one of the reasons you cant afford to dislike the bank :-P BTW - Credentials thing is better at Sampath. At Peoples bank - When i showed them the print out (asking me to give signature to bank)- The whole bank stopped working....

    @Suranee - Thanks for the comments. I think even network wise(branch & ATM), COM is the best...

  4. I'm currently banking with HNB and I have no complaints whatsoever. Their internet banking/debit card facilities are top notch and the service isn't that bad either.

  5. I have to start off by saying People's Bank, especially the Wellawatte Branch, has the worst customer service I've ever come across! Their employees are extremely lethargic, and some are just downright rude! I've heard similar complaints about this and other People's Bank branches from friends and family as well. I was forced to open an account with them whilst working outstation as it was the nearest bank, but now that I'm back in Colombo Im definitely closing it...but must take time off work to do so since they're especially uncooperative on saturdays.

    I definitely recommend BOC (even though it is a state bank-its customer service is pretty good! plus it has a pretty decent network of ATMs), Sampath and Commercial Bank (plus points for Customer Service, ATMs and holiday banking!:)

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  7. Let alone the service but in the context of repayment period and the monthly lease rate what is the best bank which have lowest rates and highest repayment period? pls let me know this for vehicle loans and housing loans. And I have another Q. what is the best Hire purchase or Lease?



  8. Hi Rookantha,
    As per my knowledge, monthly lease rate differs from person to person (Depending on applicants income,applicants repayment capacity.etc.)
    For loans doubtlessly state banks have the best rates. As i know Peoples<BOC<NSB. But the service and effort to get a loan is higher in these.(For e.g.At state banks you will need to do lots of documentation. When compared to pvt banks such as NDB you can get the loan in abt 2-3 days without stepping out of your office/home&without a guarantor). My advise is to speak to couple of banks and see wha tthey can offer your specific requirement...

  9. Thanks for your reply machan :)) yup in gov't banks we will have to do hell lot of doc'n :(