Reserve Bank of Malawi toughens rules

Post was last updated: October 9, 2017

A New directive issued by the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) has made it mandatory for existing and new commercial banks to make available their payment systems infrastructure such as automated teller machines (ATMs) and point of sale devices to customers of other banks.

This is expected to be done through the National Switch, otherwise known as Natswitch.

The Act has stipulated a K10 million penalty for disconnecting from the Natswitch and a further K4 million per month for remaining disconnected.

The Payment Systems or Interoperability of Retail Payment Systems Directive 2017 issued on September 15 has also seen RBM stipulating stiff penalties for failure by banks to adhere to the law.

The central bank says the directive is designed to set minimum mandatory requirements on interoperability of retail payment systems offered by payment service providers, as well as making it mandatory for payment service providers to put in place infrastructure that support interoperability.

The Act comes at a time when Malawians are yet to fully embrace the interoperability concept as evidenced by long queues on ATMs of other banks at a time similar infrastructure of other banks is lying idle.

Among others, the directive signed by RBM Governor, Dalitso Kabambe, prohibits banks from disconnecting from the National Switch whether temporarily or permanently without authorisation from RBM in consultation with Natwsitch.

The Act also prohibits banks from charging transactional fees to customers for failed transactions unless the failed transactions are due to insufficient funds.

“A payment service provider shall fully disclose all applicable transactional fees to a payment service provider,” RBM says.

Penalties would also be levied on banks for failure to rectify interoperability support infrastructure within 24 hours.

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