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Competition heats up in Malawi's mobile money market

Competition heats up in Malawi's mobile money market

Airtel Malawi and competitor Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM) have both rolled out fresh innovations to their offerings as more locals make use of mobile money services and platforms.

Airtel Malawi has introduced a self-reversal option whereby in the event funds are sent to a wrong number, subscribers can manage the process themselves.

Norah Chavula, Airtel Malawi Communications Officer, explained that once a customer initiates a reversal, the money that was erroneously sent will be immediately frozen and inaccessible.

"The wrong number will receive a message notifying them to reverse the money and that the money is frozen after which they should dial to approve the reversal," said Chavula.

She added that in the event the wrong recipient fails to approve the reversal, after a maximum of two hours, the Airtel back-office team will intervene, validate the transaction and process the reversal on behalf of the sender.

TNM has introduced Mpamba which enables uses to send money across the two mobile platforms.

Company officials said that while the cross-transaction facility is operational, it is still being trailed and the company can therefore not provide an official statement.

According to a report The Growth of Mobile Money in Malawi by Computer Scientist Bridget Nyirongo, as of 2017 at least 1.5 million Malawians were using mobile money services compared to the 1.2 million formal bank customers.

A Monthly National Payments System report for May 2018 stated that in terms of mobile and internet banking services by the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) relative to April 2018, the number of subscribers for mobile banking schemes registered a marginal increase of 0.6% to 526,480.

Similarly, it established that the volume of mobile banking transactions rose by 1.04% to 2.1 million.

"However, in spite of these marginal increases, the value of bank-led mobile payments declined by 8.0% to K21.0 billion during the same period. Mobile banking services are mostly used for funds transfers between retail accounts, which accounted for 87.7% of the total value," reads an excerpt from the report.

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