Ecobank Mozambique wants to continue to grow and elevate the brand in the Mozambican banking market, but with a focus on the digitalization of services.
EcoBank is a subsidiary of the Ecobank group, which owns over 90% of Ecobank Mozambique. It has been operating in the Mozambican banking market since 2014 and currently has four branches nationwide (two in Maputo, one in Beira City and one in Nampula). Ecobank's new strategy as a brand focuses on digitalization. Serving our customers especially in a digital way. This means reducing our face-to-face contact with customers so that they can transact conveniently from their office, through financial services that can provide their transactions wherever they are," said Laurinda Peniasse, head of Consumer Banking at Ecobank Mozambique, in an interview to MZNews.
Ecobank is a subsidiary of Ecobank Group, one of the largest in Africa. To what extent does this influence the development of the bank's business in Mozambique?
Speaking of direct influence, I can say that it is in injecting capital for the growth of the Mozambique branch. And naturally, since it is also a subsidiary, we benefit from an entire technological infrastructure for our banking services, an entire intellectual infrastructure, I can say so, because the human capital that works in any of the subsidiaries where we are represented, we are able to establish synergies to increase the skills of the employees, the bank, as well as very specific issues that have to do with technological development, especially for our digital strategy. So, the participation of the group is yes, to finance our capital when necessary, but we also have the technological, intellectual, and social accompaniment side.
What is the ambition of the Ecobank group globally and particularly in the Mozambican market?
In terms of strategy, generally speaking, we as an Ecobank group want to grow, and as a bank establish our pan-African presence wherever we operate. And Mozambique is no exception in terms of ambition (of course there are peculiarities of the market that will not allow us to use a strategy that was used in Zambia and implement it in Mozambique). However, the ambition is always the same, to elevate the brand by having a presence in the market where we operate and always with the Pan-African spirit that is our brand as a whole. In the particular case for Mozambique, our ambition is to continue to grow as a bank, serving our customers with excellence and always from a perspective of customer satisfaction and providing differentiated financial services..
What is your clientele segment?
Our performance is to serve the different segments. We are talking about the Corporate segment, we have the small and medium-sized companies, and we also serve the individual segment, which would be consumer banking. So we are focused on the three main segments, so to speak, and all the products in our portfolio are designed to satisfy these three important segments.
You have been in Mozambique since 2014. What is your analysis of those years from the point of view of the bank's growth?
In terms of evolution from 2014 to here, I don't know if you remember, we acquired a bank that was called Procrédito, it's instinct, in this market it no longer operates. And we had a work of demystifying the brand itself exactly because of the history of the previous acquired bank that was basically microfinance, and we came with a commercial perspective. So, in this sense, this set us an initial challenge of demystifying our performance as a bank. However, it has been a process, we have managed over the years to make our clients in the portfolio and those we have been acquiring realize, over this period, to show exactly that we are dealing with a new way of being, no longer microfinance, but a commercial bank that serves the three different groups of segments. In terms of growth, our balance sheet in itself already explains that there has been a year on year growth that is positive, in terms of assets we also have a positive growth and our ambition is to always grow, grow and grow so that we can increasingly serve these clients, mainly the corporate segment that are more demanding by the nature of their own business.
We know they are ready, but the 2021 financial results have not yet been published. Can you advance some numbers from the report?
Well, I don't know if I am the right person to talk about numbers (?) it is data that has not been published yet (?)
But, what is the expectation for them, given the context of the crisis caused by Covid-19?
Covid had its negative impact exactly because many companies had to close their operations, but at the same time, it was the moment of some opportunities. So, as Ecobank, as I said I cannot give you the final position because the accounts also had to be audited (?) but still, it did not put us in a negative position, this I can already advance. We are in a position, I can say stable in terms of what was the performance last year, that's the only information I can give you.
How does Ecobank view the expected growth spurt in the economy, derived from the large gas projects?
The bank is anticipating because it accompanies in terms of the projects you mentioned. And we can already foresee the types of financial solutions that we can provide to these entities that may be following in terms of providing services for these large projects.
So the bank is open to financing the companies that enter the race for these big projects?
Yes (?) and there are various kinds of loan facilities (?) looking at this business opportunity, like these large projects. And it's these companies that are going to work directly with the project, not have some robustness in terms of liquidity, to meet a certain demand that is asked of them by the main company, and use the bank to facilitate these transactions. Be it in advance of invoices, in short or medium term loans, or even in letters of credit and even in the imports themselves to supply some merchandise or goods for that project and we can help these companies for these import processes.
How does the new version of the Ecobank Mobile application work?
This is a mobile application that gives you the ability to conveniently make transactions wherever you are. From this application, which you can download on IOS or android, you will have access to your bank account, from viewing balances, making transfer transactions, loading your Prepaid card and making international transfer transactions (?) it is a complete panel of what is my financial education at the bank level. Besides these possibilities that I mentioned, it also gives me the possibility to create a virtual card that will help me reduce the risk of cloning, among other features that it has there.
Who is this application for?
The application is targeted at the bank's private customers as long as the customer has a mobile device that is a Smartphone, either IOS or Android.
Is this associated with the Xpress account?
Yes, it is associated. It means that if today I want to open an account in Ecobank, and I am not a customer of Ecobank, the requirements for opening this account are slightly more extensive in terms of the number of documents I have to attach. However, I want to open my account, but with lighter requirements, so this Xpress account, gives me this possibility to open the account with basic requirements, in this case, the ID and the NUIT, only. The account is opened in the mobile app, by simply downloading the mobile app and creating my Xpress account in this app. So when I access the app, it asks me right away if I am already an Ecobank customer or not, so I choose the non-customer option and it will give me the possibility to open the Xpress account and I will be able to use my Xpress account.
And what is the membership level of this application?
(?.) In a round of almost 16 thousand active customers, we have almost 10 thousand, it means that we have seven thousand that are not in this app yet, but it is justified because not all of them are on android. As we grow in number and volume of accounts, we can also grow in volume of memberships.
What is the main differential of this application compared to other banking applications?
(?) What I could say that is our differential compared to other applications is the Xpress account, which unless I'm mistaken I haven't seen in any of the other competitors, and the fact that we also have a product specific to Ecobank which is the RapidTransfer and in those other entities you won't find this product because it's something exclusive to Ecobank in addition to the virtual card which is also a novelty compared to other applications that the competition has. So I could say that these are the differentials compared to the competition.