Government is encouraging mobile phone operators, microfinance institutions and village loans and savings groups to cooperate to enable more Malawians to embrace mobile money transactions.
Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development director of economic affairs Ralph Tseka said this on Friday in Lilongwe on the sidelines of a digital finance workshop sponsored by FH1360 and Malawi Microfinance Network (MMN), when asked about measures government is putting in place to increase the number of banked population.
Currently, 73 percent of Malawians remain unbanked, according to a recent Finscope Survey, and indications are that 43 percent of Malawians transact through mobile money platforms such as TNM Mpamba, Airtel Money and Zoona, mobile money platform.
Said Tseka: “Stakeholders have to share ideas on mobile network operations. There is a great need for mobile network operators, banks, microfinance institutions to work together to make more Malawians bankable.
“As government, we have a financial sector development strategy which talks about financial inclusion. We are interested to see to it that a large proportion of Malawians can access money through operators.”
He said digital finance is good for banks, mobile network operators, microfinance institutions and financial cooperatives if it makes them more profitable, efficient and more competitive to serve more customers.
Tseka said more Malawians are not accessing services by mobile phone network operators because of lack of knowledge and also that more people are not being reached in the rural areas.
“While the Reserve Bank of Malawi has a financial literacy programme to sensitise the masses on banking and consumer issues, we are urging microfinance institutions to embrace electronic payment,” said Tseka.
MMN chairperson Fumbani Nyangulu said microfinance institutions should work with mobile network operators to reduce costs.
“Mobile technology is moving fast and, through this, we can change a lot of people’s mindset of carrying cash. In Kenya, more people are working together with mobile operators to improve their financial status,” he said.
Nyangulu blamed financial sector players for not doing enough research on why most Malawians are financially excluded.
“We need to focus on how we can reach out to more Malawians if we are to register more success as our counterparts in Kenya,” he said.
In Malawi, the concept of mobile money transaction is yet to gain ground despite mobile phone network operators engaged in massive campaigns to woo more Malawians to embrace mobile money transfer.