Steward Bank profit surges 314%

Steward Bank

INFLATION adjusted post-tax profit at commercial banking operation Steward Bank surged 314% to $5,7 billion during the half-year ended August 21, 2022, driven by an accelerated digital banking push.

The bank posted $1,4 billion profit after tax in the comparable period in 2021.

The bank, an EcoCash Holdings Zimbabwe Limited subsidiary, also announced a 223% increase in net operating income from $8 billion to $25,8 billion in inflation adjusted terms on the back of improved non-interest income which largely consisted of digital banking revenue and exchange gains.  

Pre-tax profits were also in the positive trajectory, moving up 385% to $6,3 billion, from $1,3 billion during the comparable period in 2021, according to chairperson Bernard Chidzero.

He said net interest income — the revenue that banks generate outside core operations — increased by 119% to $6 billion.

This figure was $2,7 billion during the prior period.

Tracking the trend reported by other lenders during the period, Steward Bank’s non-interest income also rose, ending the review period at $10,2 billion compared to $7,6 billion previously.

Chidzero said a major systems upgrade undertaken during the prior year to bolster the operation started bearing results during the period under review.

The strategy was informed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)’s financial inclusion strategy, which saw about 90% of the country’s population being financially included last year.

Last week, the RBZ launched the second phase of the strategy, in which it wants to mop up unbanked pockets in a few regions, especially in Matabeleland North and South, giving most of the country’s population access to banking services.

Chidzero said he would be leading a project to deepen the bank’s digital transformation.

“The bank continues on its digital transformation journey, having entered the second phase of the Purple Ark upgrade,” he said.

“The second phase is building on the success of the initial upgrade which will see increased automation and digitalisation of our systems and processes. In addition to the work being done under the Purple Ark upgrade, the bank further enhanced its digital offering resulting in the deployment of the enhanced Square Mobile App and a revamp of the *236#platform offering a better service to customers.”

Chief executive officer Courage Mashavave said: “The bank remains adequately capitalised to withstand negative shocks, while continuing to deliver innovative digital solutions to the market. Digital transformation will be at the helm of the bank’s activities in the next half year, with the bank looking to pioneer digital financial innovations that address societal and sustainability problems, such as financial inclusion.”


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