An efficient and reliable digital banking system that allows consumers to deposit funds from their phones into their bank accounts, and allows them access their accounts anytime from anywhere, leads to increased deposits, Dan Sackey, Ecobank’s Managing Director, has said.
“From a client perspective, one of the reasons why you keep your deposit with a bank is your ability to access that deposit as and when you want it, or how you want. Underlying that is convenience and we believe the investment we have made in technology allows us to deliver the level of convenience that our clients are looking for.
“Our mobile app allows you to receive and make payments in shops and online at any time; and this encourages our clients to maintain higher level of deposits with us. Today, your ability to use your card in whichever shop you go, ability to go to an ATM, and ability to use the Internet banking platform encourages you to keep your deposits with us.
“When we put these digital channels together, and the fact that they are up and running all the time and respond to the need for convenience, it makes an attractive space for people to grow their deposits with us; and we have seen this impact significantly on the deposits growth we have,” Mr. Sackey told journalists at the bank’s recent annual general meeting in Accra.
The bank’s deposits grew by 16 percent from GH¢6.5billion in 2017 to GH¢7.6billion in 2018 with a net loan book of GH¢4.1billion, the largest in the industry. This growth in deposits, Mr. Sackey opines, is the result of increased usage of the bank’s digital products and services – especially the Ecobank App, which has over a million downloads and more than 300,000 active users.
The bank reported pre-tax profits of GH¢506million in 2018, a 41 percent increment on the 2017 earning of GH¢358million. On revenue, the bank maintained its leadership position with a 17 percent growth to GH¢1.3billion despite the subdued operating environment. This performance was underpinned by an 18 percent and 15 percent growth in funded and non-funded income respectively.
Despite challenges in the economy and general conservatism of banks in 2018, Ecobank’s net interest income increased from GH¢744million in 2017 to GH¢878million – driven largely by increased lending to customers in the corporate and SME space. The bank increased its loan book from GH¢2.7billion in 2017 to GH¢4.1billion.
Mr. Sackey explained that Ecobank grew its loan book because the bank significantly improved its risk management processes, which allowed it to improve its ability to select assets and monitor those loans.
“Once you book a loan, you need to ensure that not only do you bring it in, but also monitor until it is fully repaid. As part of that process, we made sure that the assets we are booking are capital-friendly; and this ensured we would be able to match the returns on those assets with the capital they were consuming. What we did was to grow the loan book, but made sure it went into capital-friendly areas,” he said.
Board chairman Terence Darko noted that the requirement to increase stated capital and build-in buffers in accordance with the new banking directives means that even though the bank built a total shareholder value of GH¢1.32billion, making it one of the best capitalised banks in the industry, it is unable to pay dividends this year.
“We believe that continued investment in our business is required going forward, partly due to adoption by the central bank of the new Basel II and III requirements and the associated new capital requirements directives,” he said.