STEWARD Bank is ranked among the top five most stable financial institutions in Zimbabwe and its relationship with Econet Wireless, one of the country’s biggest companies, further mitigates the risk of failure, the bank’s CEO has said.
Lance Mambondiyani was responding to questions from Zimbabweans based in the UK on whether Steward would not join the growing list of collapsed indigenous banks as his institution launched its diaspora banking services at a London hotel last week.
Confidence in locally-owned financial institutions has taken a huge knock over the years as several banks collapsed with Tetrad, Allied Bank, owned by transport minister Obert Mpofu, and AfriAsia joining the list this year.
The failures have largely been blamed on poor regulation and bank executives accruing “lethal” non-performing loans by awarding easy credit to relatives and friends, which were then consumed rather than invested.
While the indigenous banks struggle and eventually collapse, foreign-owned entities such as Barclays, CABS, Stanbic and Standard Chartered remain relatively unscathed.
Mambondiyani however said the central bank ranked Steward among the top five most stable financial institutions in the country.
“I can’t speak for the others,” he said. “But Steward is ranked among the top five banks in terms of capitalisation.
“Again we are one hundred percent owned by Econet Wireless.
“We have the complete support of Econet. So, when you talk about Steward collapsing, you’re talking about failure at two levels.
“Econet would have to collapse as well for Steward Bank to fail.”
According to the RBZ’s January 2015 monetary policy statement, Steward Bank was ranked 7th out of 20 financial institutions in terms of capitalisation as at December 2014.
Steward was capitalised at US$43.9 million and ahead of Barclays but well behind the country’s biggest bank CBZ at US$109.8 million.
Econet took over the struggling TN Bank and established Steward Bank to drive its EcoCash mobile payment platform.
Mambondiyani said significant progress has since been in addressing issues arising from the TN legacy.
“We have gone a long way in addressing the legacy issues arising from the takeover of TN Bank. It has been a challenge but we are getting there,” he said.Advertisement
Non-resident Zimbabweans can access various services through Steward Bank, including remittances, money market investments back home where interest rates are much higher than in the UK, funeral and health insurance for relatives from as little as 50cents per month as well as mortgage loans.
Regarding high bank charges, a major concern in Zimbabwe, Mambondiyani said, “Our account maintenance fees are very competitive.”
Pictures from Steward Bank London Launch
Launching Steward in the diapsora … CEO Lance Mambondiyani (right)