Governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM), Dalitso Kabambe, has admitted that Malawi is lagging behind in modernizing its financial systems.
Kabambe disclosed this on Thursday in Mangochi at the official opening of the National Conference on Digital Financial Services in Malawi.
He said Malawi is ‘living in the past’ on using electronic payments.
“The total number of bank branches and agencies currently stands at only 232. Total number of point of sale devises is 1,407, while ATM’s are only 481.The number of subscribers for internet Banking stands at 55,693 out of 16 million or so people,” he said.
Kabambe added: “Out of the 4.7 million mobile money subscribers, only about 1.6 million are active within 90-day period while only 19,625 mobile agents out of a total of 29,940 are active across the country.”
Kabambe emphasized the need to turn the country from predominantly cash and cheque based payments to digital payments which he said are relatively less costly in the long run, safe, fast and modern.
He disclosed that the central bank spends between K12 to K15 billion every year in printing the cash which has been destroyed.
Kabambe however highlighted that the costs would have be much less if the country had advanced its digital payments services.
“In this workshop we want to discuss precisely those issues. What would it really take the country to move into digital financial payments so that we can reduce the use of cash and cheques.”
Managing Director of Airtel Malawi, Charles Kamoto, said the financial industry has now embraced digital financial services with the mobile phone becoming the centre of the transactions.
“I know there are issues of interoperability that are on the table that need also to be addressed to take this agenda to another level much quickly,” he said.
Kamoto disclosed that his company is intensifying awareness so that many people can embrace digital financial services.
The two day conference brought together representatives of regulators, commercial banks and business operators.