Reserve Bank of Malawi, telecom firms move to ease mobile payments
The Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) and mobile network operators Tuesday agreed some measures aimed at promoting cashless transactions in the wake of Covid 19.
However, the telecommunication firms could not commit to cutting internet costs which is critical as most Malawians work from home. Announcing the measures in Lilongwe RBM Governor, Dalitso Kabambe, said the mobile network operators have agreed to remove user fees and charges on personal transfers within the same network.
Kabambe further said the firms have also agreed to reduce fees and charges on person to person transfers across their respective networks from a minimum of K120 to K20. He said the K20 will accrue to Natswitch.
“For those transacting on the Mpamba and Airtel Money platforms such as paying bills, there will be no charges. But for those cashing out, normal user fees will apply.
“The whole idea is to promote cashless transactions in the wake of Covid-19,” Kabambe said. Airtel Managing Director, Charles Kamoto, said his firm is planning a number of other measures to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on Malawians. Asked whether the firms would consider slashing data prices during the Covid- 19, Kamoto said ensuring quality of the network is key for the operators during the period of coronavirus.
TNM Chief Executive Officer, Michiel Buitelaar, agreed with Kamoto with the need to ensure that the system remains up and running and does not crash due to being overwhelmed.
He said the industry players are doing a lot to assist various areas, including education and health. Kabambe also announced that microfinance institutions and financial cooperatives would immediately provide a three-month moratorium on interest and principal repayments for loans by borrowers including payroll borrowers on a case by case basis.
He said Saccos and MFIs will defer all payments of dividends until the risk of Covid-19 is under control. Kabambe said on its part, the Malawi Government will engage the donor community through the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development for stimulus grants to financial sector. “Government will ensure that all outstanding payroll deductions being held by ministries, departments and agencies are remitted to the respective microfinance institutions,” Kabambe said. As at yesterday, government institutions were owing Saccos about K1.6 billion while MFIs were being owed K800 million.