Steward Bank recorded a profit after tax of $8.5 million for the 6 months ending 31 August 2017, a jump from $2.6 million recorded last year for the same period. This came about as the bank’s revenue grew by 93% to reach $29 million from the $15 million posted last year, and the company’s increased efficiencies in service deliveries reduced the cost to income ratio to 52% from 64% last year. According to the statement accompanying the financial results by Steward Bank Zimbabwe, Board Chairman, Bernard Chidzero, the bank registered the best performance to date over a similar comparative period.
Chidzero also said 175,000 new customers also joined the bank while electronic transaction grew 10-fold amidst an economic period that has seen the rise of the use of plastic money in day to day transactions. The bank’s Return on Equity was 22%.
By Pearson Mbendera
“The Bank’s performance reflects the significant progress we have made in delivering the shareholder’s vision to offer mobile-centric transactional banking closely aligned to the Econet Group’s mobile money operations.” reads part of the chairman’s report.
Having recorded its first profit in the second quarter of the year 2015, after a series of losses in all periods after being acquired by Econet Wireless in 2013, Steward Bank continues to impress, and their latest results highlights better things to come.
It seems as if the economic crisis that the country is currently having, characterised by cash shortages has been good for the bank as it recorded impressive results.
But not everything can be attributed to the cash shortages that has seen a surge in the demand for banking services around the country as plastic money has taken over as the basic mode of transactions, Steward Bank has been doing a stellar job in marketing its services and signing up a lot of new customers and making the process much easier with a lot of registered agents across the country.
While the cash crisis may have presented an opportunity for the bank, it has forced them to lower withdrawal amounts from $300 a day to merely $20.
Owned by Zimbabwe’s technology giant Econet Wireless, Steward Bank’s focus has been largely driven by technology to provide banking solutions to Zimbabwe in this macroeconomic environment. They have made impressive moves in bridging the gap between EcoCash and Steward bank, with a lot of recruitments made that has seen a great change in their infrastructure, leading to 10 times more electronic transactions.
“A significant investment has also been made to improve our ICT skills and infrastructure. A major upgrade of our core banking system was initiated to provide additional capacity and long term stabilization.”
However, despite these impressive financial results, no dividend was declared for the half year.
Having suspended the mastercard payments unless prefunded with USD and launched the ‘Swipe into EcoCash’ using Steward Bank POS machines, it remains to be seen how the year will end for Steward Bank. But they seem posed to rake in a lot in transactional charges, adding on to their revenues and making stellar profits in the process.