Malawi Stock Exchange-listed NBS Bank has rolled out a digital initiative named Bank Pafupi, through which the country’s unbanked rural masses now can afford to sustain and secure their savings and investments.
The Bank Pafupi operates through private agents across the country in both urban and rural areas and since its inception in 2002, NBS Bank has over 900 agents and the figures are steadfastly rising.
Other operators are in five Post Office outlets — Bangwe, Soche, and Chileka in Blantyre; Lumbadzi in Lilongwe and Ekwendeni in Mzuzu and the Bank will soon be rolling out to all remaining outlets — according to Chief Treasury and Global Markets Officer, Benedicto Nkhoma.
In an exclusive interview with Nyasa Times, Nkhoma said they were inspired to roll out the Bank Pafupi services after a study that was conducted by Finscope in 2009, which revealed “the appalling extent of unbanked population in Malawi — 81% at the time”.
“We were also aware that access to financial services is one way of improving poverty levels in the country as it would allow people to save and/or invest, which would further result into sustainable income both to the investor and their employees,” Nkhoma said.
“Therefore, in our bid to help reduce the percentage of the unbanked population, we decided to come up with an account the rural people could afford (Pafupi Savings account) and a channel where they could transact closer to them (Bank Pafupi channel).”
He further said they have several accounts that they offer to their prospective customers in order for them to have a right to choose the type that best suits their needs.
“However, the most popular in rural areas is Pafupi Savings account. This account has lower Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements and can be opened on the spot and within five minutes.
“Customers are exempted from providing the full set of documentation we normally require when opening a normal KYC account. All they must provide is a National ID and a letter from the local Chief.
“The initial deposit is just MK500 — thereafter, a customer is free to deposit any amount of money as part of their saving, be it as low as K200.”
The services offered include withdraws, deposits, balance inquiry, loan repayment and account statement.
“The Pafupi Savings account was rolled out in 2014 and we were the first to roll out this service in the Malawian market,” Nkhoma said.
“We are very proud that we have contributed in assisting reduce the high levels of the country’s unbanked that was there in before 2012.”
Last year, at a digital financial service stakeholders conference organised by the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) in Mangochi, former Governor, Dalitso Kabambe had encouraged Malawi’s financial sector to provide financial inclusion for the unbanked rural masses.
Thus NBS Bank’s Bank Pafupi offers customer friendly requirements for one to access their services as for one to open an account they don’t require to provide the full set of documentation the bank normally demand.
And for one to qualify in becoming a Bank Pafupi agent, Nkhoma said they are required to, amongst others, have an established business premises that has a certified licence; should be trustworthy; literate; should possess a National ID and should have a Utility Bill as a proof of residence.
“The agents’ benefits are lucrative and thus we have so many of them applying to be considered as agents.
“The benefits include extra income through commissions and increased sales of their shop products from additional traffic from customers that come for bank transactions.
“This also improves the agents’ reputation for being affiliated with a well-known financial institution — NBS Bank Plc.
“Also cash withdrawals save the agents’ time from physical banking of excess cash, while cash deposits might bring the much-needed cash flow to lubricate agents’ operations.”
Going forward, Nkhoma said NBS Bank has introduced another product called ‘Tidalirane Group Transactional Account, “which targets Village Banks and savings groups to deposit or withdraw the funds they pool together from any of the Bank’s agents”.
“The product allows for dual withdrawal authorisation, aimed to ensure that the groups’ funds are secure,” Nkhoma said.
During the launch of the Bank Pafupi services with Malawi Posts Corporation (MPC) in October last year, Nkhoma had said the partnership between NBS Bank and MPC dates back to 2012 as its first agent partner.
Speaking at the launch held at Bvumbwe Trading Centre in Blantyre, Nkhoma took cognizance that MPC has the most reliable channel and expertise to deliver the much needed services.
NBS Bank, which was established in 1964, has over 900 banking agencies while MPC has 180 post offices in Malawi.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :