Sterling Bank Plc, a full service national commercial bank releases its unaudited results for the half-year ended June 30, 2020. The Bank\u2019s results released on its website showed that the growth in balance sheet driven by an increase in cash balances with the CBN on account of a hike in CRR. Overall, the Bank delivered a profit after tax of N5.41 billion in the first half of the year on gross earnings of N70.2 billion in the first half of 2020 compared with a PAT of N5.7 billion on gross earnings of N72.3 billion during the corresponding period of 2019. Despite this, the lender achieved an 18.2% growth in low-cost funds which saw its CASA mix improve to 69% from 60%, delivering a 2.5% growth in customer deposits. Speaking on the financial performance, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Sterling Bank, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman said that: \u201cOur impressive half-year performance in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic disruption belies the rough seas ahead. In the second quarter of the reporting period, we focused on empowering our stakeholders to respond to the unprecedented disruption occasioned by prolonged restriction to movement while supporting them to adapt to new ways of banking." FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS According to the CEO, "Our commitment to digitization was validated as we continued to serve existing & new customers through our mobile and digital platforms. We also responded to the uncertainty by doubling down on cost optimization while leveraging our existing remote work policy to keep our workforce productive without risking COVID-19 infection. Notwithstanding rising inflation, we were able to moderate operating expenses during H1 2020 to deliver a net profit compared to the first half of 2019." Also, despite a 242.8% growth in trading income, there was contracted gross earnings which were primarily due to a dip in fees and commission. This dip was driven by a downward review of electronic banking fees by CBN. Interest income also declined by 4.3%, however, offset by a 18.1% decline in interest expense. This delivered a 152 bps drop in the cost of funds and, consequently, a 73 bps reduction in net interest margin. "In the second half of the year, our focus remains the same; retooling our employees to function optimally while observing social distancing, enhancing our execution capacity and enabling our customers to thrive in the middle of a pandemic. We will continue to focus on the sectors that are critical to the well-being of the economy, or as we call it, the HEART sectors (Health, Education, Agriculture, Renewable Energy and Transportation).\u201d, he said. In terms of asset quality, the NPL ratio remained flat at 2.1% while the cost of risk up by 140 bps to 2.1%. The Bank's OPEX declined by 0.1% which was achieved by moderating administrative expenses despite growth in other operating expenses including AMCON and Insurance fees. Sterling Bank maintained a strong capital and liquidity position recording 15.6% and 33.5% respectively above the regulatory benchmark. Sterling Bank Plc is a leading national commercial banking establishment in Nigeria. It commenced operations as NAL Bank in 1960. Today, with over N1 trillion in total assets, 160 business offices and over 800 ATMs nationwide, Sterling Bank has grown into a major financial institution. The Bank prides itself as \u2018Your one-customer bank\u2019 that celebrates each customer as a unique individual.