Malawi, a landlocked country in Southern Africa with 17 million people, has started the journey to digitizing their cash-based economy and introducing digital financial services to thousands of previously unbanked customers.

With 18 percent of its population financially included and mobile penetration of 35 percent, Malawi is currently making the shift from the Start-Up to Expansion phase of the digital financial service market. There are several providers in the market competing with each other with slow growth in activity rates. The Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) has issued basic guidelines for digital financial services (DFS), although there is room to provide more specific regulations for DFS. To address this, the central bank has drafted an E-Money Regulation and Payment Systems Law that will govern all e-payment and will replace Mobile Payments Guidelines.

Where We Are

  • Bank or non-bank DFS with agents allowed to launch by RBM
  • National switch in place; interoperability for ATMs
  • Basic services available (wallets, bill payments, air time, cash in/ cash out)
  • 98 active agents / 100,000 adults
  • 8% active users / adult population

What We Did So Far

  • Conducted and published a payment diagnostic with Better Than Cash Alliance
  • Provided direct technical assistance to Airtel, TNM, Malawi Savings Bank and Opportunity Bank of Malawi
  • Facilitated a workshop on payment strategies
  • Provided scholarships to participants at the Helix
  • Institute agent training program in Nairobi, Kenya
  • Supported the University of New South Wales on the “Regulation of Mobile Money in Malawi” study
  • Conducted secondary research studies and disseminated through workshop
  • Conducted an agent network accelerator research
  • Facilitated training, workshops and development of new data collection templates for RBM
  • Conducted in country Helix Innovative and Shared Agent Models Course for Malawi DFS players and stakeholders
  • Participated, facilitated and chaired the Mobile Money Coordinating Group
  • Conducted an induction course and training for Government stakeholders on DFS and payments system
  • Recruited a National DFS expert to support Malawi Government in transitioning payments system to digital
  • Facilitated a high level digital payments ecosystem launch event
  • Provided support on development of quality agents to Airtel - ongoing

What We Plan for 2019

  • 15% of active registered DFS users as percentage of adult population (total 1,416,150)
  • Conduct “Bank a village” pilot test including research
  • Continue technical assistance to DFS providers
  • Support the coordination of the market through the
  • Mobile Money Coordinating Group
  • Identify priority payment streams for digitization and implementation of pilots in the Government of Malawi
  • Implement the shift from cash to electronic for one priority payment system
  • Co-develop the Roadmap with the Government of
  • Malawi for digitizing payments
  • Support RBM in strengthening DFS supervision
  • Procedures, as well as facilitating innovative data-based decision making
  • Organize local exposure visits for senior regulatory and private sector stakeholders

Facts and Figures

Where We Were

Stories from the Field

Our Team

Programme Officer