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Local banks’ digital push excites Ictam

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Gospel Kazako

The ICT Association of Malawi (Ictam) has urged the government to scale up the use of digital platforms to enhance positive trends in the financial sector.

It has transpired that commercial banks in the country are systematically stimulating customers to adopt use of digital platforms by increasing charges for traditional banking transactions.

For example, a published statement on revised tariffs by Standard Bank Malawi plc indicates that ATM cash withdrawal for transactional charges for accounts on Pay As You Transact costs a customer K300 while the same service on the counter costs K900.

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The bank further offers free services such as balance inquiry and bill payment on its digital platform dubbed 247 App and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD).

Another commercial bank, National Bank, offers for free digital transactions such as balance inquiry while charging K130 on the same for a physical transaction.

Ictam President Bram Fudzulani said the future was digital and the government must take the lead.

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“What the banks are pushing for is a true and genuine issue that needs to be embraced by Malawians but the recent survey by Macra and NSO [National Statistical Office] is a true reflection of efforts that are required by government in the fight to make sure that all Malawians are connected,” Fudzulani said.

In a recent interview, Minister of Information Gospel Kazako said the government was consulting on coming up with necessary policies.

“Right now consultations are being done and we need to move quickly. We cannot wait two years because the digital world is very fast so if we are developing a policy we must develop it real quick; otherwise, we will be left behind as a nation,” Kazako said.

A 2020 third quarter National Payment System report from the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) shows that digital transactions are being embraced in the country.

The report shows that Digital Financial Transactions Services (DFS) transactions increased by 30 percent from the preceding period.

“This buttresses the fact that there is a growing appetite for DFS channels by most customers when making payments owing to their convenience and speed at which transactions are settled. Stakeholders are therefore encouraged to continue with their efforts of improving the digital payments landscape in order to drive increased adoption and usage of electronic payments in the country,” the statement reads.

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