Daniel Sackey, Managing Director of Ecobank Ghana, has said the bank’s already active digital products, led by Ecobank Mobile App, have seen increased uptake in usage from 70% to 90% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With merchant products such as Ecobank Omni Lite and Omni Plus for businesses to conduct activities online – and EcobankPay, EcobankPayWith and Ecobank Mobile which have become the true alternative to visiting banking halls – Mr. Sackey said despite the pandemic’s negative impact, it has moved a lot more people onto the bank’s online platforms.
“A year ago, about 70% of all transactions were done on our digital channels; but as at half-year 2020, 90% of our transactions have been on our digital platforms. The increment was born out of necessity and also because we were providing a solution to our clients,” he told journalists at a virtual press briefing after the bank’s annual general meeting.
The mobile app, he said, has been the most popular when it comes to on-boarding due to its ability to allow users enjoy its benefits without ever visiting any banking hall to get signed on.
“Prior to the lockdown, there were some segments of customers who believe they needed to be in the bank to conduct almost every banking transaction; but COVID-19 has forced people to get on board our digital channels such as the Ecobank Mobile App, GHQR, Omnilite and OmniPlus for SMEs and big corporates,” he added.
Impact of COVID-19 on operations
Touching on impacts of the virus on the bank’s operation, Mr. Sackey noted that the bank has not been spared the negative impact of the virus. But Ecobank, he said, has enough resources and strategies in place to absorb the shocks and protect staff and customers.
“If there is a slowdown in performance of the economy it will impact various sectors, and the banking sector is not exempted. With some businesses shut-down and others working at lesser capacity, banks including Ecobank granted payment holidays to some clients and restructuring of their loans.
“We are playing a stronger role in advising our clients because impacts of the pandemic are diverse. So, we are dealing with our clients individually so that companies will reposition themselves for growth. We continue to monitor the situation because we do not know when this pandemic will go away.
“We at Ecobank have products and services backed by technology to serve all our clients, from individuals to small businesses and large corporates. If the pandemic goes beyond half-year next year, that will require a different conversation when it comes to payment holidays and others,” he said.
The bank posted remarkable financial results despite challenges faced by the industry last year. It has by this confirmed its number-one position as Ghana’s biggest bank and most robust financial services provider.
Key highlights of the bank’s financials showed significant growth in both profit and loss and the balance sheet. The bank grew its total income by 21% to GH¢1.59billion with operating expenses only increased by 8%, accounting for a cost-to-income ratio of 45.82% for the 2019 financial year.
The bank’s profit before tax increased by 27% to GH¢642.49million, with profit after tax also increasing by 31% to GH¢444.95million for the same period. Ecobank also recorded a growth in total assets of 27% to GH¢13.2billion while owners’ equity went up by 35% to close at GH¢1.78billion at the end of 2019.
With these, Ecobank reported the biggest loan portfolio – amounting to GH¢5.38 billion – showing a 30% increase from 2018. The bank also grew customer deposits by 28% to GH¢9.73billion – the biggest in the industry. All these translated into a handsome return on average assets of 3.8% and return on average equity of 28.6%.