The Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) says the majority of people are not fully embracing the use of digital payments including mobile wallets such as TNM Mpamba and Airtel Money.
In its National Payment System (NPS) reports from January to November this year, about 25 percent of the 3 million mobile money subscribers are transacting on the platforms on a monthly basis despite there being over 23 000 mobile money agents deployed country-wide, which is 93 times the total number of bank branches, agencies and kiosks.
The reports also indicate that usage is restricted to a limited number of products as most subscribers use the services for airtime purchases and for cash-in/outs transactions
As of November 2016, Airtel money had 1.7 million subscribers with about 550 000 subscribers actively transacting.
On the other hand, TNM Mpamba had a subscriber base of 945 000 at the end of 2015. However, the reports also indicate that mobile money subscriber base shows an increasing trend from 2.4 million in January to 3 million in November 2016.
Recently Wilkins Mijiga, who is also National Bank of Malawi (NBM) head of strategy, marketing and corporate affairs urged Malawians to embrace the concert of mobile banking and start thinking of banking outside the brick walls.
Industry experts urge that full use of electronic payments would help mop up excess liquidity—reducing the amount of money in the hands of people—which when coupled with the volatile currency has a basis for fuelling inflation.
In an e-mail interview on Wednesday, Airtel Malawi corporate communications and CSR manager Norah Chavula said to enhance the use of mobile money in the country, service providers need to do more on developing the eco-system and educating the masses.
Said Chavula: “Once the eco-system has been fully developed through the establishment of multiple avenues to use e-money, it will be a lot easier for the masses to take up mobile money.”
He urged financial service providers to nurture the use of mobile money services by ensuring that the masses are sensitised to their use.
In the NPS report, RBM says it will continue collaborating with key stakeholders in the mobile money space to promote meaningful deployments, usage and uptake of mobile money.
Apart from the mobile network service providers, FDH Bank on November 15 this year also launched the FDH mobile wallet where people can transact without necessarily holding an account with the bank or an automated teller machine (ATM) card. n