Malawi’s central bank highlighted room for improvement in the country’s mobile money industry, as a programme to remove dormant accounts caused a drop of 13 per cent in the total registered number in Q4 2019.

In its national payments system report the Reserve Bank of Malawi said the number of mobile money accounts in the country fell to 6.2 million by the end of 2019, down 13 per cent on the figure reported at end-Q3.

During the quarter registered agent numbers increased to 52,200 (up 4 per cent sequentially).

Despite the rise in agent numbers, the bank added there was still a challenge in the geographical distribution of these suppliers with more than 80 per cent located in urban and semi-urban areas.

This factor, it said, “contrasts with the fact that the majority of the country’s population, and which is largely unbanked, lives in rural areas.”

Its added there was still a long way to go “in terms of activity at both subscriber and agent level if the country is to achieve a vibrant mobile payments ecosystem”.

In early October 2019, the Malawi government scrapped plans to impose a tax on mobile money transactions following pressure from consumer groups which claimed the levy would hit the poorest hardest.