Steward Bank posts strong performance Mr Bernard Chidzero

Herald Correspondent 

Steward Bank posted a strong financial performance in the full year to February 28, 2022, with net operating income adjusted for inflation rising by 73 percent, while profit before tax more than doubled. 

Steward Bank chairman Mr Bernard Chidzero said the bank sustained improved performance all round in comparison to the year prior as its digital transformation turnaround started to bear fruit.

“This improvement was underpinned by the bank’s customer centric focus which provided for greater convenience for our customers,” he said in a statement accompanying the financial results released over the weekend.

In the period under review, the bank’s inflation adjusted interest income grew by 209 percent to close at $2,6 billion. 

Non-funded income improved 25 percent from $4,1 billion recorded in the prior year to $5,2 billion in the current year, while net operating income grew by 73 percent to close at $7,5 billion from the $4,4 billion achieved in the prior year.

Mr Chidzero said the successful implementation of a new core banking system in April 2021 enabled Steward Bank to roll out a number of digital innovations that improved and transformed the way customers transact on the bank’s platforms.

“We introduced the new Square digital banking application, which we zero-rated to bring convenience to our customers, enabling the financially excluded segments to access basic banking services,” he said. 

“In addition to the successful system upgrade, the bank also focused on improvements in the back-office operations through automations that led to an increase in the bank’s operational efficiency and service delivery.” 

In the 12 months to February this year, Steward Bank – owned by EcoCash Holdings Zimbabwe Limited – was among the first banks in the country to meet the US$30 million capitalisation deadline of December 31, 2021 through the support of its shareholders.

Steward Bank CEO, Mr Courage Mashavave, said cost-containment measures and revenue growth helped the bank to weather the challenging economic conditions.

“The bank achieved inflation-adjusted profit before tax of $1,8 billion, a turnaround from a loss of $1,4 billion incurred in the comparative period,” he said.

Steward Bank’s balance sheet grew, in inflation adjusted terms, from $22,9 billion to $28,8 billion on the back of the capital injection by the shareholders.

Mr Chidzero said in the outlook period, Zimbabwe’s largest bank by depositors, will continue to focus on promoting digital financial intermediation to reduce disparities around financial access within the                              country.

“The bank reaffirms its commitment to provide exceptional customer service that meets the ever-changing needs of our customers,” he said. 

“The bank will also look to roll out the second phase of the digital transformation journey, which provides for enhanced analytics and the use of artificial intelligence among other digital technologies. 

“This will in turn improve service delivery to customers through agility, speed and convenience.”

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