Steward the largest bank: Econet


HARARE – Ecopnet Wireless Zimbabwe (Econet) says its banking subsidiary Steward Bank (Steward) is now the largest bank in the country in terms of account holders with over 500 000 subscribers registered on its EcoCashSave platform.

This comes as EcoCashSave — an interest bearing mobile-based savings account riding on the back of Econet’s mobile money transfer service EcoCash — boosted Steward’s depositors’ base and operations due to shared synergies.

“In just about two weeks of its launch EcoCashSave has propelled Steward to the position of number one bank in this country when we look at the number of accounts. We are looking in excess of half a million account holders,” said Econet’s chief executive Douglas Mboweni.

He said the “increase was as a result of innovation and that there was a need to break away from limitations of offering financial services to the unbanked public”.

“We have removed limitations. To open a bank account many banking institutions require many documents to be produced. What we are simply saying to our subscribers is that you can move an extra step by just pressing your phone button.

“Initially this has started with Steward Bank but we are inviting all the banks to participate on this platform,” said Mboweni.

In the last six months, EcoCash processed almost $1,2 billion in transactions value while its subscribers increased by 76 percent to nearly three million.

Meanwhile, Steward’s board chairman Oluwatomisin Fashina said that they will achieve “top five bank” status in the next three years by continuously cleaning their balance sheet.

“We are firmly aware of the bank’s strategic fit within the Econet group and the bank will accelerate the harnessing of the synergy spectrum, particularly with EcoCash,” he said.

The partnership with EcoCash is envisaged to spur growth of business going forward.

“We are confident that the combination of visionary strategic initiatives currently underway, the new and improved product menu, that is being developed coupled with prudential approach to financial disclosure will translate into a healthy and dependable for Zimbabwe,” said Fashina.

In the six months to August 2013, Steward incurred an operating loss of $24,5 million due to non-recurring operating expenditure.

The bank also registered a $22 million loss after tax against a profit  of $1,7 million recorded in prior comparable period.

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