Plans to develop a payments infrastructure in order to address poverty and financial inclusion were announced at an event organized by the Government of Malawi with the United Nations Capital Development Fund’s (UNCDF), Better Than Cash Alliance and Mobile Money for the Poor initiatives.
According to UNCDF, in least developed countries such as Malawi, mobile penetration is at 30 percent while access to a bank account is at 14 percent. Mobile payments can therefore be one way to accelerate this shift.
Honorable Goodall Gondwe, MP, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development in Malawi, said that the transition to digital payments is part of the government’s commitment to achieving social and economic goals within the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy. “This is part of our mandate to realize balanced and sustainable economic growth and to reduce poverty,” said Gondwe. “We believe creating an economy where digital payments are widely available is the right path for us to embark on and we are doing so based on sound economic and fiscal policies.”
Tillman Bruett, Advisor and Programme Manager, Mobile Money for the Poor (MM4P) expect that as a result, "Malawi will progress from 3.5 percent of total active adult population using digital financial services at the start of this year to 15 percent by 2019.” As part of the programme, UNCDF plans to provide technical and financial assistance to build capacity in public and private sector organizations to support the switch from cash to digital for the most promising payments streams identified in the research.
At the event, USAID/Malawi Mission Director Doug Arbuckle made a speech where he said that, "The U.S. Government is glad to join many other governments and international organizations in encouraging a transition away from cash to digital payments in Malawi. This can be a long road, but the benefits are clear and overwhelming."
The event also launched a report that offers an in-depth analysis of the country’s readiness to transition from a nearly cash-only economy to one where digital payments are widely available through an ecosystem approach. You can download that report here.