By Alois Vinga
THE National Merchant Bank Zimbabwe Holdings Limited (NMB) has managed to rake in US$29 million through bank charges and commission fees.
According to a statement revealing the financial institution’s Condensed Audited Consolidated Results for the financial year ending December 31 2018, NMB earned US$28.5 million through commission and fee income which became one of the entity’s highest incomes from net interest income which raked in US$30.4 million in the period under review.
Major contributors to the bank charges and commission income category include retail banking and customer fees which injected US$11 million, corporate banking credit related fees raked in RTGS$2.6 million and digital banking fees which raked in US$14 million.
Asked by NewZimbabwe.com Business during the financial results briefing on whether such income levels were demoralising the public to adopt a banking culture through high bank charges, NMB chief executive, Ben Washaya argued that bank charges in the country were very reasonable when compared regionally.
“Moreso, now that we have got our own currency and if you start using the exchange rates that are in the market to compare the fees that are being charged regionally, you will discover that our fees are not even too high. More importantly that figure of US$28.5 million largely came out of a very significant account number increases experienced during the year.
“Much of the income is arising from additional branches that were opened in the financial period under review which means our charges are very competitive considering that we peg them bearing in mind that we have other competitors in the market who will also be competing to offer services hence we always try to be reasonable,” he said.
The institution’s boss said it was also important to appreciate the fact that the central bank and government play a critical role in setting the bank charge fees and when they do so, they would have put such factors into consideration.
However, during the period under review, the group recorded US$21 million while basic earnings per share rose to US$5.43 from US$2.58.
Operating expenses amounted to US$34 million and these were 26 percent higher when compared to the previous financial year and the bank managed to reduce non- performing loans whose ratio stand at seven percent.
The group’s total assets increased by 25 percent due to an increase in investment securities , increase in loans advances and other assets.