By Duncan Mlanjira
NBS Bank has emerged as Malawi’s Best Bank for the second year running in the Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2020, whose results were unveiled on July 15.
Last year, NBS Bank was voted 2019 Best Bank in Malawi by EuroMoney Awards for Excellence and 2019 Bank of the Year Malawi by the Banker Awards.
The Bank has been recognised for the great advancements achieved in the 2019 financial year, and generally on its transformation journey which began in 2017 when the Bank implemented its five-year strategic plan as a genesis to turning around the organization.
And just last week, the Bank — together with its NBS Forex Bureau, recorded a profit before tax of MK3.7 billion for the six months ended 30th June 2020 and net profit after tax of MK2.8 billion.
To date, there have been changes in the way the Bank does business and its ways of working to ensure the realization of its mission, which is, ‘To create and deliver value and sustainable returns to our customers, employees and shareholders’.
The turnaround has seen the Bank moving from reporting losses to declaring profits. The 2020 mid-year profit before tax is up from MK2.1 billion in the same period in 2019 that had a net profit after tax of MK1.4 billion.
The Bank closed the year 2019 with a profit of K4.46 billion.
NBS Bank Chief Executive Officer, Kwanele Ngwenya said this recognition confirms that their turnaround strategy is on the right track as the Bank strives to enrich their customers’ experience by providing convenient, innovative and affordable products and services.
“We are honoured to be recognised as the Best Bank in Malawi by Euromoney and we are grateful for the support rendered from all our stakeholders — our Board of Directors; the entire NICO Group of Companies; shareholders and customers,” he said.
“We are on this winning path because of them and I would especially like to thank our hardworking and committed staff, who work tirelessly every day to serve our customers and make the NBS brand what it is today.”
Ngwenya said the award serves to reaffirm the confidence that their customers and shareholders have in NBS Bank and will use this recognition as a launchpad to further motivate the NBS Red Brigade to work even harder to bring better results, solutions, and all-round service to make sure that 2020 is an even better year.
He added that the Bank has been diligent in its quest to provide first-rate service to its customers and that risk management was emphasized, leading to minimal operational losses.
Exclusive Private Banking and SME suites were opened in Blantyre, in addition to the one already servicing Lilongwe clients.
The SME and Agriculture unit reengineered its business in a deliberate attempt to serve this segment better and the gains have been considerable.
Digital Banking continues to be a key focus for the Bank, and the launch of the new digital offering dubbed EazyBank Reloaded saw some key products like EazyApp, EazyWallet, Collateral-free Credit Card and Cardless Withdrawals taking the spotlight in 2019.
The Bank says automation of the card ordering process is another significant win for our digital segment which allows our customers to save time by ordering their credit or debit cards on their phones through EazyApp.
More recently, the Bank has enhanced its ID verification process for customers through the introduction of biometrics verification.
Customers will have the details of their National ID verified through fingerprint and facial recognition as well as QR code authentication, which has been done to enhance security and to shorten the process for customer convenience.
Another key achievement, Ngwenya says, “has been our partnership with TNM Mpamba which allows customers on both ends to easily transfer funds between the TNM Mpamba platform and our EazyMobile platform.
“This is in addition to Airtel Money which was already available to our customers and the Bank has also intensified its Agency Banking section, Bank Pafupi, through our partnership with Financial Access for Rural Markets, Smallholders and Enterprises (FARMSE).
“This project is aimed at enhancing financial inclusion in the country; and in a drive to enhance our footprint, we have partnered with organisations such as AGORA and Post Dot Net as our Bank Pafupi agents to leverage on their country-wide presence.”
The Bank also says its has also introduced cash depositing ATMs in select locations to enhance convenience when customers are depositing their money.
The project is in the initial stages of roll out, hence the ATMs are in Blantyre and Lilongwe; however, the plan is to roll out countrywide.
“This has come at an opportune time with the pandemic we are facing as a country and worldwide; and it will help to decongest banking halls,” Ngwenya said.
Amongst the criteria used for the EuroMoney Awards for Excellence were strong financial performance across key metrics, a clearly differentiated business model, ability to adapt to changing market and regulatory conditions, innovation, and track record of delivering on targets to shareholders and commitment to clients.
Euromoney is one of the leading publications for covering the growth of international finance and is based in the United Kingdom. They established the Euromoney Awards for Excellence in 1992 and they were the first of their kind in the global banking industry; the awards have been running annually since.
Each year, the body receives a myriad of submissions from banks in their awards programme that covers 20 global awards, more than 50 regional awards, and best bank awards in close to 100 countries.
NBS Bank is a fully-fledged commercial bank providing a wide range of financial services to individuals, small and medium businesses, large corporations and public institutions.
“In line with our philosophy of ‘taking banking to the people’, the bank boasts of having one of the widest service networks in Malawi,” Ngwenya said.