Access, literacy and gender disparity slow Malawi’s Fintech fitness
Buy-in from banks and the steady roll out of digital financial services and products is considered a game-changer for Malawi in its effort to achieve higher levels of financial inclusion.
So claims Lyness Nkungula, CEO of the Bankers Association of Malawi (BAM), who added that while there has been growth because of increased investment in digital technology, the financial sector still faces many challenges.
Nkungula warned: “There is still need for more financial literacy because low education reduces the likelihood of individuals using some financial products and access to services.”
According to the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM)’s National Payments System report for the year ended December 2021, there was a significant increase (62.1%) in the volume of transactions processed in all payment streams in the country to 772.7 million, which it attributed to the growing customer confidence in electronic payment channels.
The number of registered mobile money agents increased significantly by 93.2% to 155, 816 as at December 2021, while the total number of registered mobile money subscribers increased by 40.6% to 10.1 million.
The market research stated that this increase widens the footprint of retail payment services across the country, but warned that the agent base is still skewed towards urban areas and semi-urban areas, leaving rural areas with less access points.
It also raised the issue of gender disparity in this market, specifically mobile money services.
An excerpt from the report reads: “The trend shows that gender imbalance continues to be heavily skewed towards males as women only constitute 38.4% of the total subscriber base. Thus, the gender gap has remained above 20% except in 2018 when it was recorded at 18.6%. This outturn shows that women who constitute the majority of the country’s population are left behind in the usage of mobile money services and that may, if left unchecked, derail the country from achieving meaningful financial inclusion.”