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National Bank of Malawi has been to the mountain top

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In the days of the old, when beautiful female tellers never hid their fair faces behind an HP LCD monitor, I had vowed never ever to open an account with National Bank of Malawi (NBM).

I hated NBM with passion; even if the bank had offered me an account with money already in it, I would have decline the offer.

With my friend Mwabi Gondwe, we stole hours from our employers and sneaked out to service customers who never wanted to pay at the counter but instead deployed us on a personal capacity. The reward from such sin would usually be an NBM’s cash cheque.

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It took an eternity to encash the small cheque. The bank had some rigid and mind-numbing system; deposits queue never ever ‘chameleoned’ into a payments line even when teller had no more deposits to receive.

National Bank employees behaved as though they worked at the Road Traffic Department. Commercial Bank (Standard Bank) conducted business differently and queues never meandered there.

Fast forward 2016, technology has wiped out the inertia. The bank has been to the mountaintop of technology and it’s now eureka moment.

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Mo626 ice is dazzling; it is an entire banking hall on your phone. From its user-friendly menus, you can pay utilities bills, transfer funds even to accounts held with other banks, view statements, buy internet bundles and what not? Through SMS the system keeps you updated on activities on your account. And all that is free-lunch.

Take example the new Henderson Street branch housed in the elegant bank’s headquarters’ building; from the tellers to the marble wall tiles, everything in that banking hall looks gorgeous. And there are two autoteller machines right inside there, just in case you forgot to use the ones outside.

In case the ATM doesn’t gag money, you need not to telephone the call centre, simply WhatsAPP or Skype. At Chichiri Service Centre you do not queue while standing, NBM lets you take the weight off your feet on comfortable chairs and entertains you to EPL matches while you happily wait for your turn.

I have sometimes wondered whether some faces I have always met there were not there just for the free DSTV.

Unless your deposit is in millions, you do not have to fill a deposit slip that begs for nonsensical information; just read out the account number to the teller and a print out will be issued.

When you deposit a cheque, you get a printed receipt. Perhaps this signals that we won’t be required to repeat what is already on the cheque on a deposit slip in the near future.

NBM has not yet been to the promised technology Canaan; there are areas it can do better. I do not understand why Mo626 ice is not yet connected to Airtel Money or TNM’s Mpamba.

In this age, why is NBM using SMS instead of WhatsApp on Mo626 alerts? Like the biblical Moses, National Bank has peeped from a higher ground and has seen the glorious technology world to come.

If any bank has any better tidings than NBM’s, please call me now on 0888303508 and will pen an epistle of you to the Malawi’s technological minds.

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