By Duncan Mlanjira
After holding a conference at Sun ‘n’ Sand on the drive to impress on financial services stakeholders to accelerate the shift from paper-based payments instruments, such as cash and cheques to electronic based services, the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) took the cashless awareness campaign through the streets of Mangochi on Saturday.
The awareness campaign started with a march from M’mbaluku led by the members of staff from RBM and various financial service that was spiced by the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) brass band.
With a car equipped with a public address system in front that had an official announcing the purpose of the march, many Mangochi residents along the Bakili Muluzi Highway came out of their offices and shops to witness the march.
The close to 5km march, that was joined by RBM’ Executive Director Henry Mathanga ended at St. Augustine 2 Primary School where various banks and non-bank mobile money service providers erected pavilions to market their services.
The financial services providers included Standards Bank, NBS Bank, Nedbank, National Bank, Ecobank, FINCA, FDH Bank, First Capital as well as mobile money companies; TNM and Airtel.
The RBM held a two-day digital financial services conference at Sun ‘n’ Sand where Governor Dalitso Kabambe highlighted that the high costs include time and money spent accessing a bank branch or an ATM to either deposit or withdraw money.
Kabambe went on to say that Malawi’s financial sector is certainly leading the way in bridging the digital divide as it has a world-class national payments system called the Malawi Interbank Transfers and Settlement system (MITASS), which has linked all commercial banks through which all transactions; high or low value, are processed in real time and designated time intervals.
Besides MITASS, the RBM also implemented the National Switch (Natswitch) through which all ATMs and point of sale (POS) devices as well as two non-bank mobile money solutions have been interlinked.
He also said Malawi has seen the number of bank accounts more than doubling within one year from 1.3 million in January 2018 to 2.6 million as at end of December.
“The number of subscribers on the non-bank mobile money platforms has also increased from 3.6 million in 2016 to 7.0 million as at end of June 2019.
“Likewise, the volume of non-bank mobile money transactions has also risen exponentially from 87.3 billion in 2016 to 122.3 million as at end June 2019 with a corresponding in crease in transaction value from K303.8 billion in 2016 to K710.1 billion as at end June 2019.
“Overall, transactions processed in all digital financial platforms increased by 104.8 percent in volume from 105.4 million in 2016 to 215.9 million in 2018 while the corresponding value increased by 173.5 percent from K1.24 trillion in 2016 to K3.4 trillion in 2018.”
Kabambe went on to say that the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) has also been linked to MITASS through which they view the inflow of transactions from commercial banks into their accounts maintained at the RBM.
“We have also linked the Accountant General’s office and as a result salaries for civil servants are now processed digitally.”