Apparently to grow its deposits portfolio, Ecobank has made some moves in recent times. The Pan- African Bank with a presence in 33 African countries including Nigeria, entered into a partnership with Airtel Money, which will allow millions of Airtel Money and Ecobank customers across Africa gain access to mobile financial services using the Ecobank digital financial services ecosystem.
Customers will be able to make mobile deposits and withdrawals, effect real time domestic and international money transfers, make in-store merchant payments, and access loans and savings products among others.
The bank also said it had removed all charges from USSD transactions for its customers.
The Ecobank group in August 2019 appointed a new consumer banking head as well as chief financial controller to drive deposit and manage its finance.
Group Chief Executive Officer of the bank, Ade Ayeyemi, said, “We continued to focus on our strategic priorities. Whilst noting the revenue headwinds, most of our regions delivered solid profit growth, with total Group profit before tax of $303 million, demonstrating the resilience of our pan-African business strategy.
“We continued with the modernisation of our core banking application having now covered about 80 per cent of total Group transactions and 22 out of our 34 countries within a period of less than a year, with full completion by mid-November 2019.
“Our unwavering commitment to ensuring best-in-class digital product offerings remains key. Our Ecobank Pay Zones are increasing across our network, providing SMEs and households with easy and secure digital payment solutions. Additionally, we are growing our agency banking network making banking services available to more previously un-banked Africans.
“We recognise the imperative of ensuring excellent customer experience across all our customer touch points and we are assiduously committed to achieving this. We are confident that all the actions we are taking will deliver longer-term value to all of our stakeholders.”
The 3rd quarter results
Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), going by the setback it recorded in its core banking operations, which whittled down its finances in the third quarter ended September 30, 2019. Though Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) grew its third quarter earnings by 7 percent with net profit up 4 percent, the marginal growth did not come as a result of its core banking services as net interest income dipped 9 percent while non-interest income only grew 12 percent.
The bank fell short of key performing parameters for deposit money banks in the review period with deposits from customers dropping by 3 percent while loans and advances to customers declined by 6 percent. Total assets dropped by 0.6 percent while total equity remained unchanged in the review period. Also, earnings per share (EPS) dropped by 8 percent.
Gross earnings recorded a marginal growth of 7 per cent from about N573 billion in third quarter ended September 30, 2018 to about N611 billion in the same period in 2019.
The ability of the bank to generate revenue improved by 1 per cent as revenue increased from N419 billion in Q3, 2018 to N423 billion as of September 30, 2019. Operating profit before impairment losses recorded a drop to the tune of 13 percent from N163 billion in Q3, 2018 to N142 billion in the same period in 2019.
Before tax deduction, profit increased by 14 percent from N96 billion as of September, 2018 to N109 billion as at September 30, 2019 while profit for the period (net profit) increased by 4 per cent at N78.8 billion compared with N75.8 billion recorded in the same period in 2018.
The bank’s balance sheet recorded a dismal performance as assets portfolio sheds weight by 0.6 percent from N8.22 trillion in September 2018 to N8.17 trillion as of September 30, 2019. Total equity remained almost fixed at N660.22 billion from N660.07 billion in September, 2018.
The bank could not grow its deposits portfolio in the review as year-on-year performance recorded a 3 per cent drop.
As of September 30, 2019 deposits from customers dropped to N5.63 trillion from N5.80 trillion in the preceding third quarter.
In the same vein, loans and advances portfolio declined 6 percent as the bank decided to cut down on advancing credit to its customers contrary to the directive of the central bank that deposit money banks should increase lending to small and medium enterprises and individuals to accelerate economic growth.
The bank’s loans and advances to customers compared to its deposits base stood at about 56 per cent as at September 30, 2019. It dropped from N3.34 trillion in September 2018 to N3.15 trillion as of nine months ended September 30, 2019.
Earnings per share from continuing operations attributable to owners of the parent during the period (expressed in kobo per share) stood at about 227.4 kobo, dropping 8 percent from 246 kobo in the same period the preceding year.
A breakdown of the bank’s earnings portfolio showed that income from core banking operations in the review nine months period dropped by 9 per cent as net interest income stood at N196 billion compared to N215 billion recorded in the preceding nine months period.
Interest expense, which increased by 27 per cent made a mockery of the 5 per cent increase in interest income as at end of September 2019. Interest expense rose to N177 billion in 2019 from N139 billion in 2018 while interest income moved up from N354 billion in 2018 to N373 billion in 2019.
Non-interest revenue on the other hand gained 12 per cent with fee and commission income and net trading income being biggest contributors.
Meanwhile, fee and commission expenses which declined by 34 percent, from (N14.86billion) in September 2018 to (N9.8billion) as at September 30, 2019, boosted non-interest revenue which stood at N227billion in 2019 compared to N203billion amassed in September 2018.
It’s obvious that the management of ETI must device means to reduce cost, if the bank must move up on the ladder of profitability and be able to compete effectively in its industry. Whilst operating income grew only by 1 per cent as of September 30, 2019, operating expenses moved up 10 per cent.
The condensed unaudited consolidated statement of comprehensive income of the bank presented to the Nigerian Stock Exchange for the financial period ended September 30, 2019 showed that operating expenses grew by 1 percent to N423 billion from N419 billion in the same period in 2018 while operating expenses jumped 10 per cent from N256 billion in September 2018 to about N281 billion in the same period in 2019.