Some sections of society have received the news of banks extending business hours with a pinch of salt citing security lapses in the country as one factor that could dent the otherwise welcome initiative.
Random interviews that we conducted in the city of Blantyre showed that most people have security concerns with doing their banking transactions late in the afternoon and said banks need to assure them of maximum security detail if the increase in banking hours is to benefit them.
Blantyre resident, a Mrs Rejoice, said following reports of increased day light bank robberies, extending opening hours would only worsen the situation.
She said banks should rather work on making their systems more efficient by making sure that there are enough personnel to assist customers within the shortest time possible.
And Mafken Paskali said instead of increasing banking hours, it was more important for the financial institutions to remove requirements that they place on those wishing to access their [banks] services.
As an example, Paskali said banks should waive requirements such as demanding utility bills from people who want to open a bank account.
“I don’t see any merit in this development. It would be more meaningful if they [banks] worked on other areas such as improving customer care. They demand that one produces a payslip as a condition for opening an account forgetting that majority Malawians are poor and would not be able to produce such documents,” he said.
But BNC Packaging General Manager, Mathews Chikankheni, who also heads the Comesa Competition Board, dismissed the security fears arguing that the trend is common in different parts of the world.
He said by extending opening hours, the banks were in fact offering more security to investments.
“By doing this, it means those who do business will have less money in their custody and I am sure they [banks] already have a plan on how security will be handled during that time just as they provide security at their Automated Teller Machines during the night,” he said.
Just recently, National Bank of Malawi and FMB increased the business hours for some of their outlets across the country from the traditional 3pm to 16:30pm and 18:00pm respectively.
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