One of the country’s commercial banks, FMB, scooped an innovation award during the European Investment Bank (EIB) 2018 Southern Africa SME and Microfinance Academy awards gala held in Johannesburg, South Africa on February 7.
FMB Head of Transactional Banking, Ewen Hiwa, said in an interview the award is in recognition of the bank’s innovation in e-payments for the delivery of social protection services on behalf of Malawi Government and development partners.
Hiwa said the Ministry of Gender partnered FMB initially on a pilot basis to deliver social cash transfers to beneficiaries in Balaka, using the e-payment model in 2014 for three years on a programme funded by the Irish Government.
Hiwa described the award as testament of the enormous work the bank, in conjunction with government and particularly the Ministry of Gender, have put in to perfect the e-payment model.
“It has been a great learning experience, which also involved massive investment on our part in advanced information technology and bringing experienced minds together to develop watertight processes” he said.
Hiwa said the bank worked very closely with the ministry over the years adding that it was fulfilling to witness that the safety nets have had significant impact on the ultra-poor and marginalised communities.
“As a bank, we now feel very attached to the programme and we will continue to invest and bring varied innovations for the ultimate benefit of these communities,” Hiwa said.
Hiwa, who also looks after the government and international Non-Governmental Organisations portfolio of FMB, said government has since entered into a fresh contract with the bank for four years owing to the success of the pilot programme.
Social cash transfer programme is a flagship initiative within the Malawi National Social Support Programme. E-payment is also a focus of the government’s roadmap for digitisation where the intention is to digitise up to 60 percent of Government to People payments by 2021 with emphasis on the financial inclusion of the rural population.