Competition for market share has pushed some banks to extend their business hours beyond the traditional 3:00 pm closing time, with some commercial banks now servicing customers up to 6:00 pm.
National Bank of Malawi (NBM) and FMB have extended business hours for some of their outlets across the country. The two banks now join Ecobank in offering more time to Malawians to do banking transactions.
NBM corporate affairs manager, Annie Magola, said some of NBM’s service centres will now be open up to 4:30 pm to give more time to customers to do banking transactions.
The centres include Chichiri Shopping Ser vice Centre, Henderson Street Service Centre, Cross Roads Service Centre and Lilongwe Gateway Service Centre.
“We decided to extend the business hours especially in the shopping centres in order to give more time to merchants to bank their daily proceeds and avoid keeping cash in their shops or homes overnight, which is a security risk,” said Magola.
“Most of the shops in these malls close around 4.30 pm or 5.00 pm and we wanted to be as close as possible to this time so that shoppers who wish to come to the bank and check on their accounts should be assisted accordingly,” she said.
FMB marketing manager, Widdey Nsona, also confirmed that FMB has extended banking hours for some of its branches to 6:00pm, saying the bank’s management will make an official announcement on the matter in due course.
Commenting on the development, Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC), Wezi Malonda, said being a liberalised economy, Malawi does not place regulations on trading hours, unless there are standing bylaws being enforced by the city councils.
She said in any case, the extension of banking hours will be of benefit to customers time flexibility in terms of bank transactions.
“It all comes down to competitiveness of our markets. When there is no or little competition, traders seem to slacken in the way they render their services because they know either way the consumer will wait,” said Malonda.
She said in other countries across Malawi’s borders, banks have been opening until 4pm because they are operating in a competitive environment.
“This is the kind of innovation that comes with competitive markets,” she said.