Steward Bank is ramping up its digitalization drive to enhance customer experience, increase cost-efficiencies and boost profitability, the financial institution’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Courage Mashavave has said.
For the past two years, Steward Bank has been executing an ambitious digital transformation strategy across its banking business which has seen the financial institution leverage AI (artificial intelligence), biometrics and the deployment of an entirely new core banking system.
The process has also seen the bank embark the on mass digitization of its information assets and the adoption of tech-driven open banking functionalities — all the while courting a new segment of ‘digital native’ customers with a mobile-centric, digital banking model.
Mr Mashavave said the bank, which early this year completed its core banking system upgrade – which enhanced its online banking platforms and mobile applications – will continue to channel efforts to cost-optimization by improving the customer experience on its digital platforms and touch-points.
“The business will leverage artificial intelligence to pre-empt and address customer needs as well as address inefficiencies related to human intervention and error,” Mr Mashavave said in a statement accompanying Steward Bank’s audited financial statement for the year ended February 28, 2021, that were published at the weekend.
This was after Zimbabwe’s largest bank by depositors saw its historical net operating income grow by 481%, to close at ZW$2.7 billion, and its net interest income go up by 520%, from ZW$60.6 million in the prior year, to ZW$376 million.
Mr Mashavave said he expected more benefits from the bank’s digital transformation initiatives going forward, adding that the bank was cognisant of the critical importance of great customer experience and was working hard to ensure that it addresses any client pain points as customer needs and expectations continue to evolve.
“Innovations such as self-service machines were rolled out thereby allowing the customer 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 its digital platforms,” he said.
In the period under review, value-added services around the bank’s products, such as the Visa Direct and Visa Mobile Application, were implemented and totally eliminated the need for Visa Card related customer enquiries requiring human support.
The Steward Bank boss added that the bank will soon add more of its branch related services onto 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 being an option to becoming a necessity as this compliments the new norm of doing business which is largely anchored on digital transformation,” Mr Mashavave said.
Steward Bank recorded a ZW$386 million profit, in historical terms, in the 12 months to February 28, 2021, up from ZW$57 million registered in its prior financial year.