In what can be likened to the proverbial underdog story, Ecobank Ghana has over the past three decades evolved from what was the smallest bank at the time, into a first-class financial institution home and abroad.
From a small office at Ridge in Accra, today Ecobank sits atop the pile as the biggest bank in the country with respect to all key parameters for measuring bank size – total assets, owners’ equity, loan book size, customer deposits, profit before tax and profit after tax. This feat was not achieved by waving a magic wand but through a robust, long-term approach to providing the best possible solutions for its customers, maximising shareholder value, investing in the communities it operates in, supporting the nation’s development agenda and rewarding the excellence of its people.
From its roots as a merchant bank, Ecobank has translated that expertise to the commercial and consumer banking spaces as well, and thereby repositioning itself as Ghana’s fastest-growing and most admired financial services player.
As part of its growth strategy as the Pan-African bank, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated – the parent company of Ecobank Ghana – acquired 100 percent of the erstwhile Trust Bank Ltd. (TTB) in a US$135million deal that involved the swapping of TTB shares for Ecobank Ghana shares. The deal positioned Ecobank as the largest bank by assets, with over 70 branches and 150 automated teller machines (ATMs), with the merger resulting in a stronger bank; one that was better able to serve the growing banking needs of Ghana’s economy.
This singular strategic move further cemented the bank’s strong presence in the local corporate and MSME (Micro, Small- and Medium-sized Enterprise) markets, and served as the road map for continuous transitioning of a bank into a world-class financial institution. The acquisition’s impact was reflected in the first year as the bank grew its balance sheet significantly, with total assets and shareholders’ funds reaching GH¢456.212million and GH¢3.428billion – thus becoming Ghana’s biggest bank way back in 2012.
Acutely aware that the future is digital, Ecobank began acquiring the necessary tools to adapt to the future. In the 1990s, long before its peers came to the realisation, Ecobank was at the forefront of technological innovations; and in 1998 it pioneered Internet banking in Ghana with its online solution, Econet. Over two decades on, Ecobank is still leading the way, revolutionising online payments and in-store merchant payments with flexible financial products such as:
Ecobank Mobile was launched in November 2016, and perceived by the market as the biggest novelty and technological sensation that ever happened to banking in Ghana and Africa. Ecobank Mobile recorded over 1 million downloads in Ghana alone, just 17 months after its launch. The App is today seen as the best means to driving Ghana toward a truly cash-lite economy and also helping to promote financial inclusion across the country. Transfers between Ecobank accounts linked to the App, such as Ecobank Xpress Accounts which can be easily opened on downloading the App, are absolutely free of any charges.
- EcobankPay is a Scan and Pay service that is available in-store or online for MasterPass and mVISA. EcobankPay is now part of the national unified payment platform, GhQR, introduced by GhIPSS across Ghana. It is a new electronic payment option that enables customers to pay for goods and services directly from their mobile phones. It is a convenient new way of making safer payments and is available at retail shops, restaurants, market stalls, mechanic shops, corner-shops, food vendors, online shops and more. Transportation service providers, including inter and intra-city bus service operators, shuttle services, taxi drivers and trotro drivers, can all register for a GhQR code to aid payments by their patrons.
Despite the huge gains made in offering digital solutions via the deployment of numerous digital channels, Ecobank also introduced a new agency banking concept known as Ecobank Xpress Points from where customers can easily deposit and withdraw cash 24/7. There are over 6,000 Xpress Points located in selected Shell fuel service stations, Melcom branches and other carefully selected shops across the nation.
The number continues to grow, as the bank is actively signing on other oil marketing companies, vendors for ECG, GWCL, retail and wholesale shops, small and medium-sized enterprise businesses etc., all of whom will work as Ecobank Xpress Point Agents nationwide. The service thus makes it possible for agents to have new opportunities for making extra income as they become agency points for dealing in financial services. Among the services provided at the Ecobank Xpress Points are: Cash deposits and withdrawals for Ecobank Xpress accounts, current accounts and savings accounts; Redeeming e-tokens; Issuance of Cash Xpress Prepaid Cards; International Remittances (RapidTransfer, Western Union, Ria, Money Gram, Vigo, Unity Link), among others.
Ecobank Xpress Cash
Ecobank Xpress Cash service is a card-less cash withdrawal function on Ecobank ATMs or at any designated Ecobank Xpress Point around the country. Account holders are simply required to open Ecobank Mobile on their phones and generate e-tokens for use; or forward the e-tokens to third parties via SMS, WhatsApp or e-mail. Using the e-tokens, recipients can then cash the amount at any Ecobank ATM without using a card, or redeem their funds from any Ecobank Xpress Point.
Ecobank Online, Omnilite and Omniplus
Ecobank also provides Internet banking services that provide greater convenience for its consumer and business customers. Ecobank online is available for individual customers, while commercial and corporate banking customers respectively use Ecobank OMNILITE and Ecobank OMNIPLUS for remote transactions.
A Pan-African bank
Ecobank is today the largest bank in Ghana and truly the Pan-African Bank, with a presence in more than 33 countries on the continent and dealing in 20 currencies. This ensures that the bank is the most ideal partner for businesses participating in the largest trade area – the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) – as the Ecobank Group is in more countries of Africa than any other bank.
Ecobank has recorded profit after tax of GH¢549.8million for the year ended December 31, 2020. This represents a 23.6% growth compared to the GH¢444.9million recorded in the corresponding accounting period of 2019. The bank also saw its profit before tax amount to GH¢782.240million, making it the most profitable bank in the country for 2020 and a 22% growth on 2019.
Value of its total assets appreciated by some 21%, from GH¢13.2billion in 2019 to GH¢15.95billion for 2020, with the biggest loan book and customer deposits in the industry of over GH¢4.997 billion and GH¢11.804 billion respectively – once again cementing its status as largest player in the industry.
As part of its corporate social responsibility, the bank, together with the Ecobank Foundation, supported the Ghana COVID-19 Private Sector Fund with an amount of GH¢1.3million; GH¢750,000 in cash toward the construction of a 100-bed Infectious Disease Centre in Accra; and GH¢550,000 worth of personal protective equipment (PPE). Furthermore, ten thousand (10,000) COVID-19 test kits were also donated to the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, to be administered in association with the Ghana Health Service under the auspices of the Ministry of Health. Ecobank also collaborated with the media to solicit additional funds for the private sector fund intended for the 100-bed Infectious Disease Centre.
Also, through the Ghana Association of Bankers (GAB), Ecobank contributed to the sum of GH¢10,000,000 – presented to the government of Ghana to aid the purchase of critical equipment toward managing the COVID-19 pandemic, through public education and feeding programmes for the vulnerable. In all, the bank’s total COVID-19-related donations amounted to over GH¢1.750million.
Ecobank threw light on a number of health-related issues in collaboration with a number of stakeholders, including the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) – the crown jewel of this being Ecobank Day.
In what was the most turbulent year in recent history, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commercial Banking Division of Ecobank Ghana granted loan-repayment moratoriums in terms of principal and interest repayments to its borrowing customers to the tune of GH¢842 million, or 78% of the CMB asset book as of April 2020. The repayment extension covered periods from three to nine months. The reliefs also included a reduction in interest rates by 200 basis points.
This and other measures saw the division’s customer base increase by 47% to more than 66,000 as deposit growth of 41.1% was achieved to take the value of deposits at the end of 2020 to GH¢2.84billion. About 85% of these deposits were non-interest bearing as at the end of December 2020. This contributed significantly to the bank attaining the highest industry deposits for the 2020 financial year.
As evidence of its commitment to environmental sustainability, 35 of Ecobank’s 65 branches in the country will be powered by solar energy by end of the year. Aware that despite its commitment to sound corporate governance, ethics, research and development, and proper structures, a lot rises and falls on its people.
As such, Ecobank has been committed to recruiting the best people, training and rewarding them accordingly while instilling in them its core principles. These principles are captured by the acronym RACEIT – to wit, Respect, Accountability, Customer Centricity, Excellence, Integrity, and Teamwork. The bank presently operates from 67 branches, with numerous POS terminals in shops and over 240 ATMs well-sited across the country.
Key dates and milestones
*1989: Incorporated as a private limited liability company.
*1989: Licenced to operate as a merchant bank by the Bank of Ghana.
*1990: Started operations as a merchant bank operating from a single branch.
*1998: Pioneered Internet banking in Ghana with its online solution, Econet.
*2003: Acquired a universal banking licence.
*2006: Lists on the Ghana Stock Exchange.
*2012 (June): Acquires The Trust Bank (TTB).
*2012 (year-end): Adjudged biggest bank in the country.
*2016: Launches the Ecobank Mobile App.
*2019: Introduced XpressLoan, in collaboration with Jumo Ghana and MTN Ghana.
In June 2021, two years after its inception and with 2.3 million unique customers, the 10 millionth XpressLoan was disbursed – amounting to some US$530million.
Awards and Recognition
|CIG Best Bank of the Year||2001||2002||2004||2005||2006||2012||2014||2016|
|CIMG Best Bank of the year||2003||2009||2014||2015||2016|
|CIMG Hall of Fame Bank||2017||2018|
|CIMG Marketing-Oriented Company||2017|
|CIMG Product of the Year – Services||2018|
|Euromoney Best Bank in Ghana||2010||2012||2015||2016|
|Asian Banker Best Retail Bank in Ghana||2014|
|EMEA Finance, Best Bank in Ghana||2012|
|The Global Finance Award – Best Emerging Markets Bank in Ghana||2012|
|Second-Best Tax Payer, Large Tax Payers||2014|
|AGI Best Financial Service Provider||2012||2016|
|Financial Times Bankers Award, Best Bank in Ghana||2009|
|CitiBank – STP Award||2015|