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Steward Bank’s profit jumps to $386 million

Steward Bank’s net profit jumped to $386 million in the full year to February 28, 2021 from $57 million in the same period a year earlier driven by a marked increase in net interest income.

Steward Bank CEO , Courage Mashavave
Steward Bank CEO , Courage Mashavave

The country’s largest bank by depositors indicated that net interest income spiked 520 percent to $376 million from $60,6 million a year ago.

Steward Bank’s chief executive officer Mr Courage Mashavave said the bank’s performance benefitted from increased lending activity and high interest rates.

“The bank’s historical net operating income grew by 481 percent to close at $2,7 billion. However, the inflation-adjusted net operating income declined by 33 percent when compared to the prior year,” he said in a financial statement published at the weekend.

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The decline in net operating income was largely tied to the increased cost structure linked to system and talent realignment at the bank in order to accommodate the financial institution’s core banking system upgrade.

In inflation-adjusted terms, the banking unit saw its net interest income dipping by 17 percent in comparison to the prior year, while non-funded income followed a similar trajectory, softening by 26 percent.

“The Digital Bank revenue line increased from $237 million noted in the year 2020 to $980 million, much attributed to the bank’s digital innovations that ranged from USSD banking, Visa Card integrations and Point of Sale ingenuities,” added Mr Mashavave.

Steward Bank’s non-funded income also improved significantly by 367 percent in comparison to the prior year buoyed by “transformational innovations” done around traditional banking, which included automated foreign currency account opening.

As part of strategies to address customer pain points and emergent needs, the bank rolled out innovations such as self-service machines to allow customers to transact without human intervention.

“The main thrust of these innovations was to protect the customer from the threat of the coronavirus that thrives on human contact. Further, the bank embarked on an aggressive campaign to drive customers from its branches and to start transacting on is digital platforms.”

The bank’s ‘Go Digital’ campaign saw various value-added services deployed around the bank’s products, including the Visa Direct and Visa Mobile Application, that totally eliminated the need for Visa Card-related customer enquiries requiring human interventions.

Steward Bank is reportedly looking to add more of its branch-related services on to its mobile platforms as it pursues its aspirations of becoming a fully-fledged digital bank.

“The need to become a digital bank has evolved from becoming an option but to (becoming) a necessity as this compliments the new norm of doing business which is largely anchored on digital transformation.”

Mr Mashavave added that the business will leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to pre-empt and address customer needs as well as address inefficiencies related to human error and interventions. The Sunday Mail