Customs creates history by launching online payment platform

  • Central Bank, LankaClear Ltd and banks collaborate for key initiative 

Sri Lanka Customs created history yesterday by implementing a state-of-the-art online payment platform for Customs payments in partnership with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

This landmark initiative was ceremonially inaugurated by State Minister of Finance and Mass Media Eran WickramaratneandCentral Bank Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy.

Established more than 200 years ago in 1809, Sri Lanka Customs is one of the oldest customs administrations in the world. This platform was launched in its quest to be a leading promoter of advanced technology driven customs operations in the region.

Prior to launching this revolutionary platform, only the importers/exporters who maintained their bank accounts at the two State banks, Bank of Ceylon and People’s Bank, were able to make direct Customs payments online. Other importers/exporters who maintained their accounts at other banks had to go through a tedious process of having to obtain a pay order at a cost of Rs. 250 from their bank, take it physically to a branch of the two State banks and get another pay order from the State bank with Sri Lanka Customs as the beneficiary.

With the new initiative, importers/exporters receive a cost benefit as their bank would only charge a nominal fee of Rs. 50 to make the Customs payments, irrespective of the value of the transaction. This is the fee currently levied by any bank to make a real-time fund transfer to another bank based on a directive issued by the Central Bank to cap the maximum customer fee to the above amount. The new system would totally eliminate the previous inefficient payment process that resulted in unnecessary delays and impacted the businesses of the importers/exporters.

In order to address a long-felt need of the importers/exporters, Sri Lanka Customs embarked on an ambitious project with the approval of the monetary board and support of the Central Bank who is the authority in approving and regulating any payment system in Sri Lanka. With this ground breaking initiative by the Sri Lanka Customs, the importers/exporters who maintain their bank accounts at any bank can now make Customs payments via their banks’ online banking facility.

This initiative was taken as a result of Sri Lanka Customs requesting the support of the Central Bank to facilitate the importers/exporters to make online Customs payments on a real-time basis from any bank in the country.

Subsequently, based on a directive from the Central Bank and with the approval of the monetary board, LankaClear Ltd. implemented LankaPay Online Payment Platform (LPOPP).

This online payment platform will facilitate online Customs payments from all commercial banks.  LPOPP has been designed to communicate with SL Custom’s ASYCUDA system on one side while the same payment platform will also be the front end for the participating banks of LankaClear’s Common Electronic Fund Transfer Switch (CEFTS) to liaise with SL Customs.

The customers can now directly connect to their respective bank via any channel connected to CEFTS (Internet, Mobile, ATM or Over the Counter) to make the required payment to Customs. Further, these payments will be credited on a real-time and 24 X 7 basis using CEFTS to the designated SL Custom’s bank accounts at Bank of Ceylon or People’s Bank.

The LankaClear system provides SL Customs the required payment confirmation details on a real-time basis while the relevant reports and other information to be provided had also been agreed upon mutually for reconciliation purposes. The settlement of the payment between the two State banks and other commercial banks would be via the Central Bank’s Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS) and will be under the direct regulation and supervision of the Central Bank.

LankaClear payment systems are Payment Card Industry – Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) Version 3.2 and ISO 27001:2013 certified to ensure the highest level of security compliance. These standards are an internationally-recognised and widely-accepted set of policies and procedures intended to ensure the security of payment transactions. The initial system went live with the participation of Bank of Ceylon, Sampath bank and Commercial Bank while the seven other banks who have already been certified with the new system would also go live shortly.

Commenting on this ground breaking initiative, Sri Lanka Customs Director General Chulananda Perera stated: “I am really proud of this achievement by the Information Communication Technology division of Sri Lanka Customs who spearheaded this national initiative and worked tirelessly with the Central Bank, LankaClear and the commercial banks to ensure that a robust and a reliable system was implemented. This was one of our key initiatives and fulfils a long-awaited requirement of all our traders. Sri Lanka Customs has strived to improve efficiency in all our processes to provide an enhanced service to importers/exporters and general public and reaching this milestone was yet another positive step in this direction.”

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