Digital financial services (DFS) transactions have continued to rise, a development the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) has attributed to increased drive for adoption and usage of electronic payments.
RBM 2019 Second Quarter National Payment Systems Report published on Friday indicates an upward movement in both volume and value of retail DFS transactions processed during the period under review.
It shows that total volume jumped by 14.5 percent to 72.3 million whereas the corresponding value increased by 39 percent to K1 billion.
However, a comparison to the similar period in 2018 shows more pronounced movement as the volume and value increased by 46.1 percent and 125.3 percent, respectively.
The total registered subscriber base for non-bank mobile money services continues to grow, rising by 8.2 percent to seven million during the quarter under review.
Despite the increase in subscriber base, activity rates continue to be low, with only 37.4 percent of the total mobile money subscribers using the service during the 90-day period under review, a slight drop from 39.7 percent recorded during the previous period.
The report says this implies that over 60 percent of the registered subscribers are not actively using the service.
Despite total number of registered agents growing by 5.8 percent to 45 929 recorded at end of June 2019, mobile money agent network continues to be highly concentrated in in urban and semi-urban areas at 81.1 percent, with only 18.9 percent available in rural areas to service more than 80 percent of the country’s population.
“This partly explains why the majority of the rural-based populace face difficulties to access financial services due to fewer service points. Therefore, any efforts by the service providers to increase their footprint in the rural areas will go a long way in addressing this challenge.
“Low activity rates for mobile money subscribers, low awareness and sparse availability of payment systems access points, especially in remote areas remain the challenges affecting increased adoption and usage of electronic payment products and services in the country,” reads the report in part.
Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito expressed concern over the increase of mobile money agents in urban areas, which he said is creating challenges to the growth of mobile money in rural areas.
Meanwhile, the e-money regulations, developed to govern various aspects of the operations of e-money services in the country were gazetted into law during the period under review. The regulations cover areas such as minimum technical and operational requirements, consumer protection and protection of customer funds, among other issues.