BY FREEMAN MAKOPA
Steward Bank delivered strong financial performance for the full year to 28 February 2022, with net operating income up 73% to ZW7.5 billion from ZW4.4 billion ZW dollars the previous year.
Pre-tax profit more than doubled.
The bank thwarted the country’s deteriorating economic conditions, marked by high inflation and the depreciation of the Zimbabwean dollar.
This came as the official inflation rate increased to 131.7% in May 2022, from its lowest rate in recent time of 50.2% in August 2021.
Steward Bank Chairman Bernard Chidzero said the financial institution had seen an improvement in performance over the previous year as its turnaround from digital transformation began to bear fruit.
“This improvement has been underpinned by the bank’s customer-centric orientation, which has enabled greater convenience for our customers,” he said in a statement accompanying the financial results.
During the period under review, the bank’s inflation-adjusted interest income increased by 209% to close at Z$2.6 billion.
Unfunded revenue increased by 25% from ZW$4.1 billion in the previous year to ZW5.2 billion in the current year.
Chidzero said the implementation of a new core banking system in April 2021 has allowed the bank to roll out a number of digital innovations that have improved and transformed the way customers transact across the platforms. bank.
“We introduced the new Square digital banking app, which we have zero-rated to bring more convenience to our customers, allowing financially excluded segments to access basic banking services. In addition to the successful system upgrade, the bank also focused on improving back-office operations through various automations which led to an increase in operational efficiency and service delivery. the bank.
In the 12 months to February 2022, Steward Bank – owned by EcoCash Holdings Zimbabwe Limited – was among the first banks in the country to meet the US$30 million capitalization deadline of December 31, 2021 thanks to the support of its shareholders. .
The bank’s CEO, Courage Mashavave, said cost containment measures and revenue growth had helped the bank weather the tough economic conditions.
“The bank made an inflation-adjusted pre-tax profit of ZW$1.8 billion, a reversal from a loss of ZW$1.4 billion suffered in the comparative period,” it said. -he declares.
He also noted that Steward Bank’s balance sheet increased, in inflation-adjusted terms, from ZW$22.9 billion to ZW$28.8 billion thanks to capital injection by shareholders.
Meanwhile, Chidzero said that over the forecast period, Zimbabwe’s largest bank by depositors, will continue to focus on promoting digital financial intermediation to reduce disparities around access finance in the country.