Akossa Hiwa NBM Marketing and Corporate Affairs Manager

By Mc Donald Chapalapata, Contributor

National Bank of Malawi (NBM) plc has hailed its customers and staff members for adhering to measures put in place by the Bank’s Corona Virus Response Committee to prevent the spread of the pandemic Covid-19.

NBM plc Marketing and Corporate Affairs Manager Akossa Hiwa said in an interview yesterday that most customers are now adhering to the measures which include washing hands with soap or using hand sanitizers before and after transacting in banking halls and practicing social distancing.

“However, we have noted with concern that some customers refuse to observe social distancing as they wait to be let into the banking hall. We appeal that they observe these measures for their own safety and for the safety of those around them,” said Hiwa.

She added that the Bank had noted an upsurge in the number of customers transacting on digital platforms.

“The figures show a significant increase in the use of our mobile banking platforms Mo626 Ice and Mo626 Digital+ as well as the internet banking platform BankNet 360 as customers bank safely without having to come into the banking hall.  As a bank, we reduced fees that these services attract by 40% to cushion our customers during this difficult period in line with Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) and Bankers Association of Malawi (BAM) directives.  We are confident that customers will continue to utilize and gain value from digital banking platforms post COVID-19,” explained Hiwa.

Hiwa added that in line with RBM regulations, customers, especially Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that have been heavily affected by Covid-19 are being given a moratorium on their loans for three months upon making an application to the Bank. This is being assessed on a case by case basis.

Commenting on a customer who recently tested positive for Covid 19 and had transacted at Chichiri Service Centre in Blantyre, before their status was known, Hiwa responded that as soon as this was known, the Bank alerted Blantyre District Health Office and all members of staff that had been in contact with the customer were sent on self-isolation and tested for Covid-19.

Results received from the Blantyre District Health Office indicate that all staff tested negative for COVID-19

“In addition to testing and isolating staff, the Service Centre was immediately thoroughly disinfected to ensure the safety of both customers and staff. We would like to reassure the public that at a time riddled with uncertainty driven by COVID-19, the Bank is committed to taking all possible precautions to ensure that its customers, staff members and communities within which it operates remain safe from infection,” explained Hiwa.

She said the Bank continues to implement Ministry of Health and World Health safety guidelines by disinfecting Banking Halls and ATM Machines at regular intervals, providing soap for hand washing or alcohol based sanitizer to customers entering into Banking Halls or utilizing ATMs and encouraging social distancing through the use of directive posters and stickers.  

The Bank has further distributed protective masks to front line staff that engage with customers and has implemented a plan to ensure that work places are decongested, according to Hiwa.

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