Citic Ka Wah Bank expects to see improved business performance reflected in its first-half profit result, according to president and chief executive Cai Zhongzhi. Speaking at the launch of the bank's e-business services, Mr Cai said the bank had seen an increase in first-half interest income before provisions. Citic Ka Wah Bank will announce its first-half results in August. The bank's net profit dropped 73 per cent to HK$77.34 million for the six months to June 30 last year. The bank is moving into e-banking in an effort to enhance its competitiveness. It will provide online securities trading services and enable customers to perform general banking transactions and credit applications through the Internet. Mr Cai said end-to-end e-commerce solutions to corporate customers would also be offered. The bank estimates it will invest more than HK$100 million in e-business over the coming year. The bank will charge 0.25 per cent commission for online securities trading - the minimum mandated by stock exchange rules. Mr Cai said the bank anticipated that at the end of the year, 40 per cent of its securities transactions would be processed through virtual channels. Citic Ka Wah expects the first phase of its e-banking drive, which runs until the end of September, to bring in about 10,000 customers, of which 3,000 will be new. The bank is also offering online property valuation as well as an instant approval-in-principal service for mortgage loans, personal instalment loans and personal credit lines.