‘Make emergency payments in cash’ …Bankers tell customers


The Bankers Association of Malawi (Bam) has asked companies and cheque account drawers to make emergency payments in cash instead of issuing cheque to avoid inconveniencing payees with clearing delays in the banks.

Bam President John Biziwick said on Wednesday that the decision to stop encashing third party cheque by banks has been made in the best interest of customers and was important in the control of fraud in customers’ accounts.

“We had to do this because cases of fraud were increasing,” said Biziwick, adding: “We believe there is a syndicate involving some employees of mobile phone companies who are hacking people’s phone numbers so that when the bank calls a customer to verify cheque issuance, the fraudsters answer the phone instead of our customers.”

He said both the Police and mobile phone companies were aware of the practice since several cases have been reported to them by various banks.

Biziwick said if banks were to maintain the system of encashing third party cheque, customers would have been made to wait for too long in banking halls.

“Already, customers complain a lot when they are made to wait for cheque clearance for more than 10 minutes. You can imagine the intensity of complaints of customers if they are made to wait for hours,” said Biziwick.

He said depositing of cheques into accounts will give the banks more time to cross-check the authenticity of the cheques.

Asked how the banks will assist cheque holders with emergency needs, Biziwick advised drawers to pay in cash to those with urgent needs.

“The best way is for the owners of the accounts to come and cash the cheques themselves and pay third parties in cash,” said Biziwick.

Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) Executive Director John Kapito said he would talk to the Bankers Association of Malawi to understanding the reasoning behind the non-encashment of third-party cheques.

“I hope banks are not just trying to pass on their inefficiencies to consumers. There are many people in this country who do not have bank accounts and even for those with accounts; clearing of cheques through the accounts attracts fees. The banks may just be looking for another way of making money,” said Kapito.

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