The financial system in Honduras expanded by 14% in 2020. The number is impressive, but not as much so as the growth chalked up by the country’s largest bank, Banco Ficohsa.
Ficohsa’s assets expanded by 18.% last year. The bank accounts for one-fifth of total assets in the Honduran banking system. Ficohsa kept its title on the top lender in Honduras, with its loan portfolio increasing by 4.4% in 2020 over the previous year. More impressive were total deposits, which jumped by 28.8% compared to 2019.
Ficohsa accounted for 20.0% of loans and 16.0% of deposits in the Honduran system as of May 2021, according to a report from Fitch Ratings.
The bank’s solid performance and the additional of several digital products that broke new ground in country earned Banco Ficohsa the Bank of the Year award for Honduras.
“The bank has grown its business significantly from 2019. We are the largest institution in terms of assets and a significant contributor to the solid economic growth in Honduras,” the bank said in a statement.
Ficohsa launched two initiatives in 2020 that responded to the pandemic, but had been on the drawing board as part of digital leap that began midway through the previous decade.
The bank enhanced SARA, it virtual assistant or Chat Bot. It added WhatsApp as a new digital channel to enhance is around-the-clock response. The service comes with an enterprise certificate, which means that all conversations are protected from outside parties. It is the first service in Central America with this kind of protection. The bank had nearly 200,000 customers signed up at the end of 2020.
Also a first for Central America, Ficohsa launched a virtual mall in July 2020. It also added a new savings account “Enjoy + Save,” that not only has competitive market rate, but lets customers obtain points that can be exchanged in the virtual mall.
Ficomall currently has 141 shops registered under 30 different categories. Ficohsa provides companies joining with a host of services, including advertising and marketing assistance. It also streamlined payment processes to make it easier for customers to acquire goods and merchants to receive payments.
“Ficomall made the sales process easier, especially for microenterprises and entrepreneurs, allowing them to retain employees and operate during the crisis,” the bank notes.
The bank also stepped up during the pandemic to partner with international institution to assist struggling Hondurans. It worked with the World Food Program to ensure support for nutritional programs for children during the height of the crisis.
In 2021, it received $25 million from the OPEC Fund for International Development for on-lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) hurt by the pandemic. It was tailored to agriculture, manufacturing and textile SMEs.