The Cashless Economy Discussed in Unicaf University Open Lecture

Unicaf University Malawi hosted on June 29th the Open Lecture “Cashless Economy: Is Africa and Malawi ready for it?” presented by distinguished economist Mr Charles Chuka, former Governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi. The lecture was held at the Cyprus Amphitheatre of Unicaf University’s state-of-the-art Lilongwe campus and attracted a large and mixed audience of students, academics, professionals and members of the general public, as well as representatives of the press and other media.

UUM Vice Chancellor Professor Joseph Kuthemba Mwale introduced the speaker, whose interesting presentation engaged the audience and was backed by statistics, graphics and other useful data. Mr Chuka highlighted a number of factors that prevent African countries from moving forward to a cashless economy like challenges in infrastructure, including reliable provision of electricity, Internet penetration and cost, as well as mobile phone usage. He said that the African continent will be deemed cashless only if at least 29% of total transactions are cashless, employing modern methods of payment such as mobile money, bank transfers, digital currency, POS etc.

Mr Chuka pointed out that countries like South Africa and Kenya are moving faster towards becoming cashless economies, due to their strong technological infrastructure, which facilitates the extensive usage of credit cards, online payments, debit cards, crypto currency and so on. He said that the global shift towards electronic cashless payments is occurring so fast, that societies may not have adequate time to adjust their processes accordingly. He also referred to the importance of governments preparing for a cashless economy, establishing public-private partnerships to this end, to the necessary legal framework and monetary policies which must be applied. He predicted that in Malawi the volume of cashless transactions will continue to grow, albeit at a slower pace, due to a number of factors, such as unreliable electricity supply, limited Internet penetration, inadequate technological infrastructure and low income levels amongst ordinary citizens, plus the fact that around 70% of Malawians do not possess a bank account. He also stressed the importance of changing the prevailing mindset among citizens, the government and the private sector. The speaker called on decision makers to put more effort into accelerating the pace of moving towards a cashless society in Malawi and said that additional research into alternative remote transaction methods is required.

The lecture was streamed live on Unicaf University’s official Facebook page, with over one thousand viewers watching online from around the globe.

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