HARARE – Steward Bank, a banking unit of EcoCash Holdings Zimbabwe Limited, reported a 350 percent increase in its half-year profits on Thursday, driven by its strong digital strategy and focus on serving low-income earners.
For the six months ended August 31, 2023, Zimbabwe’s largest bank by depositors recorded a $89 billion profit after tax, compared to $19,8 billion recorded in the same period last year. The bank’s inflation-adjusted net operating income increased by 158 percent to $234 million, while non-funded income surged to $113 million, demonstrating a 427 percent improvement from the same period in 2022.
Steward Bank chief executive officer Courage Mashavave attributed the bank’s performance to its strong digital strategy and its focus on serving customers.
“We are pleased with our financial performance for the first half of the financial year. This performance is a testament to our strong digital strategy and our focus on serving our customers,” he said.
“We will continue to invest in innovation and technology to provide our customers with the best possible banking experience”.
Steward Bank is among the fastest-growing Zimbabwean lenders, as it targets low-income earners among other customers – who were largely untapped by many well-established and conservative banks.
Mashavave attributed the bank’s performance to its success in generating foreign currency through foreign currency account transactions and international card revenue, which was largely driven by strategic partnerships.
“In the next half (year), the bank looks to expand its range of digital products to cater to various customer segments and ensure that customers are delighted through these digital services, which will bring about convenience, reliability, and personalisation,” he said.
Steward Bank board chairman Bernard Chidzero lauded the leading financial institution’s commitment to digitalisation and improving service delivery.
“In line with our strategy, the period under review saw further digitalisation through the adoption of new technologies that promote service delivery,” he said.
The bank’s digitalisation journey incorporates innovative tools such as Predictive Analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which have enhanced operational efficiency and automation, and paved the way for a range of need-based services and use cases on its mobile banking platform, catering to the growing adoption of the US dollar and 4IR technologies.
Mr Chidzero said the current financial year marks the bank’s 10th anniversary.
“A decade in business is a milestone to be proud of, more importantly it is a milestone to reflect and appreciate every stakeholder that has been a part of our journey so far. We are grateful to everyone who has made the bank a success,” he added.
Steward Bank has been a pioneer in digital banking in Zimbabwe. It was the first bank to launch a mobile banking app in the country and has since introduced a number of innovative digital products and services, such as its Square mobile banking platform, which offers a wide range of banking services, including bill payments, money transfers and access to loans. The bank’s commitment to digital innovation has been rewarded with success. Steward Bank is now one of the largest and most profitable banks in Zimbabwe.
It has also been recognized for its innovative approach to banking, winning numerous awards, including the Financial Inclusion Award at the 2023 Zimbabwe Independent Banks and Banking Survey Awards held last month. – Herald