September 30, 2020 – A team of local PEP researchers held a national policy conference to discuss how a training and text messages can promote mobile money use and increase financial inclusion in Malawi.
Following the easing of Covid-19 pandemic response restrictions in Malawi, the team of local researchers was able to reschedule their national policy conference and bring together 23 stakeholders. Attendees included representatives of the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development, banks, telecoms and mobile money service providers, national and international NGOs, and research and academic institutions.
The team presented findings and recommendations from their PEP study that sought to establish whether mobile money can induce entrepreneurial and financial behaviors in members of village savings and loan associations (VSLAs) in rural, southern Malawi, selected under the PAGE II initiative in 2017. See PEP Policy Brief 228 for findings and policy implications.
The team leader, Levison Chiwaula (pictured, top), explained how providing financial literacy training reinforced by text message reminders to VSLA members increases their use of mobile money and access to formal financial services. “Working with VSLAs to integrate mobile money can improve access to financial services among unbanked people,” he said.
The recommendations were well-received. The Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development, and Public Sector Reforms highlighted the timeliness of the research, particularly as digital payments have become more important due to the COvid-19 pandemic. He said that the findings from this study will be used to develop the next Malawi Financial Sector Development Strategy, for implementation from 2021.
The Manager of Payment Systems at the Reserve Bank of Malawi said that the bank is working with mobile money providers to address the challenges faced by mobile money users. He highlighted the need to include the academia in the National Taskforce on Electronic Payments to enhance the analytical capacity of the committee. The Department of Economics at the University of Malawi will thus be added to the taskforce.
News of the team’s findings and their conference was published in The Nation, a daily national newspaper.
The conference was hosted in collaboration with the Economics Association of Malawi at the Sunbird Capital Hotel in Lilongwe. The research team organized the event with financial and advisory support from PEP.