Blantyre vendors applaud NBM Plc for introducing digital financial services

The vendors association’s chairperson, Martin Matchindu

Victor Singano Jnr, Correspondent

The Association of Vendors in Blantyre has applauded one of the the country’s leading banks, National Bank of Malawi (NBM) Plc for introducing new digital financial customer services which is helping its clients to make transactions in a smooth manner that is improving time management.

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The vendors disclosed this on Wednesday during a dinner organized by the bank at its Head Offices in Blantyre, where the association’s chairperson, Martin Matchindu revealed because most Blantyre and Limbe based traders were not able to assist customers who are requesting to transact through mobile banking and e-wallets.

He said they had no idea how to go about accessing such services but through the interface dinner, the bank has ably presented to them different digital financial inclusion services, which will help them service the increase in demand of customers who prefer paying through mobile banking.

“It is no secret that most customers tend to feel unsafe in markets due to the high risk of theft and when they demand for cashless transactions, the business owners struggle with the challenge,” he said.

“It is also not only unsafe for our customers but we ourselves are also frequent victims of the same handpicking and theft. When customers first started requesting to pay through digital transactions, we were all quite sceptical but we soon understood that it was a win-win situation and we have not looked back since.”

He also added that when he started business 15 years ago, digital financial platforms for making payments was then a new phenomenon in which only the elite were able to make use of.

However, the service is being practised by almost everyone and the demand for it by the customers has forced many traders in the Limbe and Blantyre markets to jump to digital methods of transacting.

He explained that most traders in the market are now accepting payments digitally and particularly using the NBM’s platform, Mo626.

In his remarks, NBM Head of Digital Financial Services, William Kaunda said the bank has witnessed huge uptake of digital products which is a very welcome development as the bank intends to make their services more accessible to all.

“We have put in place a number of digital products to make our services accessible to all our customers in all sectors. Lately, we have seen huge uptake of digital products and currently over 90% of our transactions are done digitally.

“That’s why we thought it wise to organize the dinner in order to explain in detail all the digital banking transaction services to these customers so that they should not left behind,” Kaunda said.

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Last month, engaged vendors and minibus association to a special interface meeting to enhance their financial services literacy and take advantage of some services the Bank offers.

The initiative was done as part of NB’s strategy to maintain a close working relationship with its stakeholders following some feedback concerns that some of their clients are facing discrimination by the bank in as far as accessing smooth financial services is concerned.

Held at the Bank’s new head offices in Blantyre, that is along Hannover Henderson Streets, the vendors included those trading used clothes (kaunjika), street food providers (commonly known as chiwaya vendors), cosmetics vendors, tax operators, Airtel Money and Mpamba agents, minibus drivers — just to mention a few.

NBM Chief Executive Officer, Macfussy Kawawa said at the function that they decided to organize the interface — as some are their potential customers — so that they could express the challenges they face when they want to acces the banks financial services.

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“As a key player in the financial services sector, National Bank believes in working with all members of the public and this is one way of bringing these groups of customers closer to their services.

“These interactions are very vital because it helps us to get direct feedback and see how we can improve those areas where we are not doing good in order to satisfy our customers,” Kawawa had said.

The bank presented various services it offers such as consumer products (ATM cards, opportunities off online MO626 service); loans process; interest applications and many more.

National Bank of Malawi Plc was established in 1971 as a result of a merger of Barclays Bank DCO (Dominion Colonial Overseas) and Standard Bank, which had its origins in Republic of South Africa, was widely established in Africa.

The merger of the two banks brought together complimentary operations to provide a country wide spread of assets and services.

Barclays Bank disinvested from Malawi in 1982 and Standard Bank which was later known as Standard Chartered Bank, left Malawi in 1996, in line with the broader strategic plans of the parent bank overseas.

National Bank, that was listed on the Malawi Stock Exchange on August 21, 2000 with an over subscription of 3.4 times, is the leading bank in Malawi as a product of the experience and expertise of Barclays Bank and Standard Chartered Bank with a network of 33 service centres.

It has over 1000 employees and is the largest commercial bank in Malawi in terms of asset base, as well as being the most efficient and profitable.

It is currently one of the most liquid stock and a key and vibrant player on the Exchange.

The Bank’s shareholding at December 2019 is Press Corporation Plc (51.5%); Old Mutual Group (25.1%); members of public (23.0%); employees (ESOS) (0.4%).

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