By Duncan Mlanjira
NBS Bank Plc and NBS Forex Bureau Limited’s financial performance has tremendously improved in the past two years and as at the end of 31 December 2019, they registered K4.46 billion profit after tax.
This represents a growth of 162% above the profit after tax of K1.699 billion reported in a similar period of 2018.
The financial results were announced on Wednesday at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre that attracted shareholders and other business partners, where the Chief Executive Officer, Kwanele Ngwenya announced that Board of Directors has recommended the payment of a dividend for the year ended 31 December 2019 of K1.019 billion, representing 35 tambala per share.
The year ended 2018, NBS Bank did not declare any dividend in order to reinvest into its business, thus translates into the current status and improving going into 2020.
Ngwenya said the tremendous growth over the past 12 months shows the sustainability of the Bank’s turnaround strategy amidst a dynamic economic environment.
“High growth in profitability was buoyed by impressive growth in Net Interest Income of 103% because of the growth of the loan book and money market investments,” Ngwenya said.
“The Bank’s focus on rebuilding quality assets will continue in the foreseeable future. The improving economic fundamentals will continue to create viable opportunities for the lending.”
According to the financials’ commentary, which were presented by Ngwenya and assisted by Chief Finance Officer, Vera Zulu; Chief Operating Officer, Shadrick Chikusilo and acting Chief Commercial Officer Benedicto Nkhoma, non-interest income which is made up of transaction fees and forex trading income decreased by 13% year-on-year.
However, uptake of the Bank’s products on digital platforms continued to improve as investments were made to increase network availability and reliability. The Bank therefore expects a stronger performance in non-interest income in the strategy period.
“Net recoveries were at K810 million, down from K1,208 million recorded in the prior year. Nevertheless, the quality of the Bank’s book significantly improved in 2019.
Operating expenditure was up by 16.5% due to costs of branch rationalization and investments in staff capacity building and innovation as part of the transformation journey.
Total customer deposits grew by 21% as customers continued to place their confidence in the Bank’s new strategy and investments in new online and branch infrastructure.
Such investments will continue in order to accord customers convenience and excellent customer experience.
The commentary further says in 2020, the Bank and its partner FARMSE will, through its agency network, offer customers in rural areas across the country enhanced access payments solutions, cash deposits and withdrawals.
Money market investments grew by 124% and the loan book grew by 136%.
The management said the Bank’s overarching strategic goal is to be a digitally-driven transactional Bank for both retail and corporate customers through a deeper understanding of their needs.
And at the center of this strategy is unparalleled customer experience embodied in the Bank’s entrepreneurial culture, and ability to be nimble, flexible and innovative balanced by a strong risk management discipline.
The Bank will continue to consolidate gains made thus far in repositioning its product base and customer centric approach and introduced various products and services during the year in line with its strategy of making banking easy.
Management said the Bank promoted its strategy to digitize and make banking easy for its customers by the improvement of its digital platforms through enhancements and new innovations.
These include the revamped Personal and Corporate Internet Banking to meet customer expectations; the introduction of NBS Bank Plc Mobile App called EazyApp on both Android and iOS where customers are now able to buy prepaid water and electricity units, make internal and external transfers, check balances and apply for new cards and overdrafts facilities.
Further, all customer segments can now make online payments using their debit cards and use the newly introduced cardless withdrawal service.
“Our latest enhancement was the introduction of NBS EazyWallet,” the presenters said. “These new products have ensured improved accessibility and availability of the Banks services to our customers.
“The Bank relaunched the SME offering as a deliberate ploy to serve SMEs in Malawi better. Additional resources were allocated to the SME segment to ensure an enhanced experience for this important segment which is crucial to the development of the Malawi economy.
“The Bank continued to support Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives by way of sponsoring various initiatives that resonated with what the Bank stands for.”
It was also announced that in August 2019, NBS Bank was awarded the Euromoney Best Bank in Malawi for 2018 and recently won the Banker award for best bank in Malawi in 2019, to just cement the successes it has achieved.
Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is projected to rebound to 5 percent in 2020 from 4.4 percent estimated in 2019 driven by greater access to finance and more resilient infrastructure.
Inflation is projected to decline to 8.7 percent in 2020 and converge towards 5 percent over the medium to long-term, benefitting from improved agricultural resilience gradually lowering food prices, lower international fuel prices, and strengthened fiscal and monetary policy implementation.
The Malawi kwacha will continue to perform well against major trading currencies. However, the economic gains made in macroeconomic fundamentals have been negatively affected by the political environment and going forward the same could be further negatively affected by the continued current political uncertainty.
Nonetheless, the Bank pledged to continue to diligently monitor all variables that can have a negative impact on its ability to meet its strategic goals in 2020.