Ecobank International has recorded an operating income (net revenue) of $393 million for the first quarter ended March 31, 2020.. The result shows a one percent rise on a reported basis and 14 percent in constant currency.
According to a statement issued by the bank, its operating expenses went up by one percent to $259 million on a reported basis and six percent in constant currency. It said its pre-impairment profit of $113 million went up two percent on a reported basis and 34 percent in constant currency on positive operating leverage.
The bank also recorded a profit before tax of $90 million during the period which is 12 percent down on a reported basis but shot up 12 percent in constant currency, driven by positive operating leverage.
Other highlights of the result include growth in customer deposits by six percent to $16,103 million on a reported basis and 11 percent in constant currency. Loans and advances to customers also rose to $8788 million, representing a two percent increase on a reported basis and seven percent in constant currency.
Other milestones recorded by the bank during the period included significant increase in customer adoption rates on its digital/online channels, with the adoption rates expected to accelerate as COVID-19 induced lockdowns change consumer behavior.
In particular, Ecobank’s number and value of transactions grew by 8% and 15% to 4m and $6.1bn, respectively, on Ecobank Omni+, corporate and investment bank’s corporate clients’ online banking platform in the first quarter of 2020.
OmniLite, commercial bank’s online banking platform designed specifically to meet the unique financial needs of SMEs increased number of transactions by 40,000 to 126,000, which amounted to $435m.
Ecobank Pay, a payments platform saw a 61% increase in merchant acquisition numbers to 195,000 merchants, Ttansaction numbers and value on Ecobank Mobile increased 72% and 32% to 9m and $613m, respectively.
During the review period, the bank said registered customers increased by 3,000 to 9,000 year-on-year on its Africa RapidTransfer App, which facilitates low-cost money transfer across 33 African countries. The number of XpressPoints (physical agency network) grew by approximately 4,000 agents to 43,700, with the value of transactions reaching $445m.
Commenting on these feats, Ade Ayeyemi, group chief executive officer said: “Quarter 1, 2020 was the beginning of an unprecedented, uncharted and disturbing period for businesses, governments and individuals globally, owing to the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic. For us, as a bank, our focus is on making sure that we can meet the needs of our customers despite the pandemic, while also ensuring their wellbeing and safety as well as those of our employees.
“All our countries have successfully activated our business continuity plan in line with the needs of each local environment. Through our investment in technology over the years, working from home has been seamless and indeed a pretext to a possible new normal post COVID-19.”
“As the leading pan-African bank, Ecobank embraced the call to duty with a sense of urgency. With our knowledge of Africa and its intricacies in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, we have contributed about $3 million in the form of cash, healthcare equipment and supplies, in addition to mounting sustained and robust awareness campaigns, while we are also using our digital banking platforms to provide money to some of the most vulnerable members in our communities.”
In recognition of the effects of the pandemic on a significant sector of African businesses, MSMEs, we are further co-leading, with the African Union-NEPAD, and are actively committed to an initiative to support MSMEs with technical knowledge, mentoring, knowledge sharing and financial support, thus playing a vital role in helping their businesses survive the pandemic.
“For the safety of our customers, we continue to adhere strictly to guidance from the WHO, governments, and health agencies in operating our physical locations, where they have to remain open. We have made it safer to visit our physical locations by providing temperature checks, crowd control, hand sanitisers and social distancing, among other measures.
Our ATMs and call centres remain open 24/7, and the full range of our banking services are available via our digital platforms. Ecobank Mobile and Ecobank Online are available to our consumer customers, and Ecobank Omni Lite and Ecobank Omni meet the needs of SMEs and large businesses. To further help alleviate the adverse impact of the pandemic on our customers, we have waived some of the fees on our digital channels and we are closely monitoring events to anticipate situations that may require our support to customers as circumstances evolve,” Ayeyemi added.
“That said, our quarterly performance was resilient, again reflecting the strength of our diversified business model. We delivered $90 million in pre-tax profits, an increase of 27% if adjusted for currency translation effects, and a return on tangible shareholders’ equity of 17.1%. We are managing impairment losses prudently, and as a result, our cost-of-risk increased to 1.5%, versus 0.5% in the prior-year quarter.”