Steward Bank confident it has turned the corner




Steward Bank CEO, Mr Courage Mashavave

HARARE – Steward Bank, which is considered a pioneer of mobile banking on the local market, has already begun the second phase of its system upgrade that is largely expected to consolidate its success in minimising disruptions to service and transaction processing, according to the bank’s chief executive officer, Mr Courage Mashavave.

Two years ago, Steward Bank embarked on a massive system upgrade meant to improve the customer experience on its channels both in branches and digital platforms.

However, there were some teething challenges, particularly around RTGS outgoing and incoming transactions, that have since been resolved.

“Phase one was designed to capacitate our capacity, our infrastructure — our back-end infrastructure, so to speak. And this culminated in us going live with our phase one in April 2021. Our customers are now enjoying fewer service disruptions and faster processing speeds,” said Mr Mashavave in an interview with a local radio station.

“Phase two has already begun and will run for the better part of this year. Improvements in phase two will be seen as we roll-out. We are targeting to complete by the end of this calendar year, but what you will find is that as we go, customers will definitely see changes and improvements. It speaks more to the customer touchpoint.”

The bank, which is the largest in Zimbabwe by customer base as it boasts of more than two million customers, leverages on innovation and technology as a major selling point.

“The first thing that we want to ensure is to eliminate customer-related issues. We want to ensure that the transaction success rates are extremely high. But, should they be other issues that arise, we as a team would ensure faster resolution of customer issues,” added Mr Mashavave.

“Since November last year, there has been very few service delivery outages through customer touchpoints. Going forward, we want to introduce more innovative products and services, and more self-service options that allow customers to be in control of their banking experience.

“We have ensured that our service expectation strives for minimum disruption to service and transaction processing. Where service delivery is possibly disrupted by one way or the other, we then endeavour to ensure that customer issues are prioritised.”

As the bank pushes for digital transformation, it continues to explore various digital platforms to ensure users are “able to so much more than just banking”, including farming, travel and online shopping, among many other limitless possibilities.

Banks, according to the Steward Bank CEO, will play a pivotal role in the economy through channelling resources to productive sectors such as mining and agriculture.

But, the advent of the coronavirus pandemic that has limited human interaction is expected to result in fewer bank branches and continued investment in digital solutions.

Added Mr Mashavave: “I am positive around the growth of the banking sector within Zimbabwe. I think what we will see going forward, and part of these lessons have also come through because of Covid-19, is that we will see a lot of investment in digital solutions. And what that will do is that it will also provide our customers with so many more opportunities to be able to go about their business and also transact through banking platforms without having to visit bank branches.

“So what we might actually see is that bank branches will become fewer as we go forward because of the significant investment that financial institutions are doing around the area of digital transformation.”

Part of the innovation to provide a seamless digital banking experience lies in providing a digital ecosystem through extra channels of communication.

“We are opening extra channels of communication including online accounts that are also monitored by myself as well as the senior team, allowing customers to highlight any critical issues that might be impeding them from jumping onto the digital transformation train. This will ensure that we will leave no Zimbabwean behind.”

Steward Bank is, however, confident that is has turned the corner. – Sunday Mail