MORE than one million customers have opened bank accounts with Steward Bank, through its EcoCash$ave, handling transactions worth more than $20 million, a senior official has said.
The bank, formerly known as TN Bank, was acquired by Zimbabwe’s largest telecoms firm Econet Wireless in January 2013 and is undergoing transformation as it pursues the objective of becoming one of “top five” banks in the next three years.
Kwanele Ngwenya, Steward Bank chief executive officer, said the financial institution targeted “small” people, noting that the main challenge in most Africa countries “is the desire to spend, spend, spend without due care towards saving for a rainy day”.
“Over the past few months, we have launched a unique savings product, EcoCash$ave which is delivered over the mobile phone.
“I am proud to say that through EcoCash$ave, over 1,1 million people have opened bank accounts without ever having to visit a branch or complete forms,” he said.
“I am also proud to say that the bank has handled just over $20 million in that particular account.” Early this month the bank launched EcoCashLoans to customers already saving through EcoCash$ave.
Ngwenya added that his bank had started working on some initiatives with the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) minister Sithembiso Nyoni.
“As a bank, we are committed to providing financial services to ordinary citizens, informal traders, professionals, SMEs and large corporates.
“We are in the middle of rolling out appropriate distribution channels for all the segments that we are passionate about.
“As long as you have a phone, then we will reach you. We have an unwavering commitment to SMEs, not just through loans, but also through the provision of appropriate advisory services,” he said.
“Loans and access to capital are not the most important components of running a business. Access to ideas and knowledge is the critical glue.”