Consumers Association of Association of Malawi (Cama) has decried the upward adjustment in commercial banks’ service fees, saying this is one of the reasons many Malawians remain unbanked.
The consumer rights group’s reaction follows published statements from various commercial banks in the country indicating upward price adjustments of their services effective January 1 this year.
Results of a recent FinScope Malawi Survey showed that 67 percent of adults are unbanked largely due to prohibitive bank charges.
Disturbed by the high numbers of people outside the formal banking system, in 2017, Ministry of Finance launched the 2016–2020 Strategy for Financial Inclusion, which provided direction to achieving and promoting inclusive finance in the country.
Published statements from FDH Bank plc, First Capital Bank (FCB), Standard Bank plc, NBS Bank plc and CDH Investment Bank (CDHIB) have indicated various adjustments on their services.
For instance, CDHIB customers seeking a new automated teller machine (ATM) card will now have to part with K10 000 and K16 000 for a replacement of the same.
CDHIB customers will also now have to pay K11 100 for a 50-paged cheque book, up from K9 800 last year, according to a published statement from the bank.
For NBS Bank plc current account customers, a new ATM card will now cost K10 000 and K16 000 for a replacement of the same
For a 50-paged cheque book and a 100-paged cheque book, the bank’s customers will now be paying K15 000 and K35 000, respectively.
Standard Bank plc customers will be debited K15 000 effective this year as monthly service fees for private current account holders while NBS Bank plc savings account holders will be paying K25 000 a monthly service fee.
In an interview on Monday, Cama executive director John Kapito said bank charges remain prohibitive to most customers and have turned away a number of people from banking.
He said: “The ever-rising bank charges by our commercial banks are the reason behind the high rates of financial exclusion.
“Malawi has the lowest number of depositors in the region due to these many and high charges a depositor is demanded to pay.”
Kapito described the move by banks as daylight robbery and wondered why banks advertise their services to consumers.
Bankers Association of Malawi chief executive officer Lyness Nkungula was yet to respond to our e-mailed questions.