The sudden disruption of economic activity the Covid-19 pandemic has brought has made companies to rethink and advance their business strategies, as demand for face-to-face services, essential and non-essential goods providers have been heavily cut.
As industries are seen to be affected by physical distancing as a measure to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, digital platforms have provided an opportunity for businesses and individuals to easily conduct business, access basic banking services and others such as sending money from one person to another.
Local businesses have since turned towards the provision of essential goods and services, using digital platforms.
According to Finca Malawi marketing manager Violet Mangani, the microfinance institution has deployed a comprehensive digital solution to clients to mitigate the Covid-19 risks.
“Digital technology is taking real effect. As Finca, we are proud to be innovators in microfinance as the first deposit taking micro finance institution in the country.
“We have deployed a touch tech model where we apply the use of technology as well as engagement with our clients. With our technology we are able to allow our customers to bank with us where they can perform a number of services which do not require physical contact,” she said.
This is the same for National Bank of Malawi (NBM) Plc which, according to marketing and corporate affairs manager Akossa Hiwa, continues to operate while observing hygiene and distancing measures and are also engaging in digital platforms in the operations.
“We are holding all meetings digitally and we are encouraging our customers to utilise digital channels in order to remain safe. We have implemented the 40 percent reduction on digital transaction fees as mandated by the Reserve Bank of Malawi [RBM]. We are adapting to the situation while ensuring that productivity levels do not drop,” she said.
Similarly FDH Bank public relations officer Lorraine Lusinje said apart from reducing digital banking fees the bank has translated its mobile banking menu in both Chichewa and ChiTumbuka, allowing more
people to access their services efficiently.
In a separate interview TNM Mpamba Limited general manager Chikhulupiliro Mphatso said the financial institution has used its existing platform to advance digitization whilst growing and ensuring business survival.
“We have seen good response from various institutions which collect funds from people from time-to-time which include churches and shops and these are adopting new mechanisms which ensures that their members are able to make contributions and pay for goods without physically being there,” he said.
On his part, Indigenous Businesses Association of Malawi (Ibam) president Mike Mlombwa admitted that the current situation should be a wake up call for local industries to adopt new measures to ensure business survival.
Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama), executive director John Kapito, while pointing out that digital services have come in handy and consumers are able to embrace digital technologies, service interruptions should be minimal during these times.
RBM spokesperson Mbane Ngwira in an earlier interview underscored the importance of digital payments, citing mobile money as an example. He said it offers the lowest cost access means to formal financial services because people can transact funds from anywhere and anytime unlike where brick and mortar is concerned.