Steward Bank opening at least 3,000 new bank accounts a day, says CEO

L.S.M Kabweza Avatar

Steward Bank is now opening at least 3,000 new bank accounts a day, the bank’s CEO, Lance Mambondiani told Techzim recently. We interview Mambondiani at the launch the company’s new Incubation Pod center at its financial services center in Avondale, Harare.

“We are opening 3,000 to 4,000 new accounts everyday now. We are in a position where we have been surprised…” said the CEO.

The strategy, according to Mambondiani, has been to reduce the costs of banking (a concept the bank has come to call Free Banking) and then scaling up. The key product driving those sign-ups is the iSave account, whose growth we wrote about separately last week.

We also touched on Banking as a Service last week, and in our interview, had the opportunity to discuss this strategy with Mambondiani. Steward Bank, according to him, is on its way to building the “biggest financial services platform” offering not just the regular banking, but all kinds of payment services.

He explained:

We want to create the biggest financial services platform where if you want DStv, you can get it either on the app, you can get it on the internet, you can get it at an agent or you can get it at a shop, all through an ecosystem that we would have created.

If there’s someone that has an API for a service that we’re not offering and they can plug it into any of  the things that we’re doing, then we share a commission, that’s the model that we want.

As long as the service costs have been reduced and it’s scalable so that we can offer it to anybody, whether they are our customer or not.

The thinking is ofcourse far from the traditional bank thinking. Mambondiani said right it’s about building their account base as much as possible, and eventually, when they have hit 350,000 plus accounts, to upsell those account holders with new products. At a minimum 3,000 new accounts a day, and with 150,000 accounts already in the bag, that target is only a couple of months away.

More and more as you consider this thinking inside the bank, Steward Bank feels like a fintech startup than a regular bank. Ofcourse they are not without competition in that space as it’s really a global race for making payments and transfers as easy possible to make, especially for the unbanked.

Zimbabwean startups vying to become the central place for digital payments include M-vendr, which recently introduced value remittances, enabling Zimbabweans in and out of Zimbabwe, to use an app buy Multichoice pay TV subscriptions, ZESA tokens, water bills, school fees. GetCash too are onto this prize too. Steward Bank’s opportunity though is quite unique in 3,000 direct agents plus the 50,000 plus Econet agents and merchants that they can tap into.


  1. Marvin Taurai Gubba

    I hope they can service these customers. This might be a signal to leave the bank before it has lines like those of CBZ, CABS and ZB

  2. The Analyst

    Also, kindly note that most “real” banks have since stopped opening new accounts due to fear of speculative maneuvering in the money transfer market. Steward Bank is one of the few banks, if not only bank, still opening new customer accounts. This seems to me to be the major driving force behind the surge Steward Bank is currently experiencing, rather than any innovativeness Lance might want to attribute this to.

    That said, I completely applaud Lance in opening up Steward Bank to third Party API’s, this is a totally welcome development in the startup community. Now that’s being innovative!

  3. cost per unti

    the service is arocious its like steard bank employees have inherited that econet attitude where they think everyone is there to serve them or owes them soemthing i men seriously though there are a few who really want to aid and are friendly quite a few dont care. i mean i sincerely asked a steward bank branch employee about a query and honestly told me that the main office doesnt answer calls and loe and behold i spent 5 days calling and finally had to physically visit the branch over 3 times before i complained and ended up receiving service.

  4. Macd Chip

    Well done Mambondiyani for having such a vision and working towards achieving it because mambo ndiwe!

    l do not have a account with Steward bank, but where ever l was trying to use my international mastercard, cashiers would always run around looking for Steward bank payment pos, l asked why, and they told me that is the one which is hassle free most of the time.

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