Steward Bank’s recent financial performance shows the progress that the bank has so far made building a new banking model that is mobile centric and digitally driven.

Steward Bank has registered a 232,17% increase in profit after tax to $8,52 million at the end of the half year period ending August 31 on the back of the bank increasing mobile-centric transactional banking. The increase in profit for the period was from $2,56 million recorded in the same period last year. The banking subsidiary of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe leveraged off the fact that the telecommunication group enjoys a monopoly in mobile money in the country.

“The bank’s performance reflects the significant progress we have made in delivering the shareholder’s vision to offer mobile-centric transactional banking closely aligned to the Econet Group’s mobile money operations. The bank has remained steadfast and committed to its core strategy, providing affordable and easy to access financial services to every Zimbabwean,” Steward Bank board chairman Bernard Chidzero said in a statement accompanying the results.

“This approach, which we believe delivers real value to our customers, has resonated with a number of Zimbabweans who in turn have selected us as their bank of choice.” He said the strategy of leveraging off the Econet Group’s mobile platform contributed to them getting 175 000 new customers in the period.

“Our primary customers, using any of our platforms on a frequent basis, increased to 55% of all active customers,” Chidzero said.

As a result of it leveraging off its mobile money subscribers, Steward Bank registered improved net interest incomes of 33,94% to $4,84 million from a 2016 comparative of $3,61 million. This represented a net profit margin of 32,35%, showing the bank was in a profitable position.

The bank also grew its net operating income by 88,44% to $26,35 million at the end of the period under review from $13,98 million recorded from the 2016 half-year period.

In terms of commitment to paying its short and long-term obligations, the bank was in a strong position as it had $3,04 in current assets for every dollar of current liabilities when looking at its current ratio. This was on the back of growing assets to $254,39 million, in the period under review, from a 2016 comparative of $226,05 million due to an increase of financial assets held to maturity by 80,67%.

Deposits also increased to $165,65 million correlating with the increase in new customers in the period under review which was from a 2016 comparative of $144,63 million, representing a 14,53% increase.

However, despite the increase, cash balances dropped significantly to $999 073 in the period under review from a 2016 period of $4,05 million, showing depositors will continue to struggle to get cash in the short-term. But, the liquidity position remained in positive territory as cash and cash equivalent grew to $68,2 million from the $63,95 million realized in the same period last year.