Malawi President Joyce Banda has called on the banking sector to introduce more modern electronic banking technologies to reach 80 percent of the population which is unbanked.
President Banda made the call in Blantyre where she opened a state-of-the-art K7.5 billion (about $30m) Nation Bank of Malawi (NBM) Towers.
“I hope the banking industry will move with speed to ensure that Malawians have access to modern electronic banking technologies. My government is committed to promoting telecommunication infrastructural development in support of the growth of electronic banking so that the unbanked rural population is reached and serviced. The use of mobile banking services through cell phones and physical service delivery by the banks will go a long way in reaching out to the unbanked population in support of the government strategy of financial inclusion.
“I would like to commend National Bank for the innovation they have provided in the public sector because we are all aware that NBM was the first to introduce real time banking services. They also provided ATM services to every account holder, introduced mobile banking, bill payment services [through banks]. This is commendable,” she said.
She congratulated the bank on putting up such a magnificent building and its customers, partners and suppliers for supporting it to achieve this milestone.
“I congratulate National Bank of Malawi on giving Malawians such a magnificent building that has world class facilities. [If we] can have more of such structures, the ambience of our cities will be transformed and we will be able to attract both tourists and businesses. This is important and I encourage such properly designed, environmentally-friendly and energy-saving investments that add beauty to our cities and towns,” she said.
On his part, Finance Minister Dr Ken Lipenga observed that banks have an opportunity to harness and bring into the formal system the 80 percent of the countryâ€™s population that is unbanked.
He said because of the governmentâ€™s commitment to financial inclusion, it has initiated a number of projects such as the Financial Inclusion in Malawi to transform the financial landscape.
“The banks have played a big role in the economic development of the nation. I know that when it comes to financial inclusion, the real expansion will be the use of modern technology and National Bank of Malawi is already leading in that area in the country,” said Lipenga.
He also called on the banking industry to respond to the demand for innovative banking products.
NBM chief executive officer George Patridge took the invited guests on the bankâ€™s history which dates back to 111 years ago in 1894 when the African Lakes Corporation (ALC) started its first banking operations.
He added that the first branch was on Victoria Avenue and was opened in April 1901.
In 1977, a merger between Standard Bank and Barclays Bank Dominion Colonial Overseas (DCO) gave birth to NBM.
The state of the art NBM head office has nine floors, two of which are base floors.