First Capital Bank (formerly First Merchant Bank) emerged the Innovation Award winner at the occasion of the European Investment Bank (EIB) 2018, Southern Africa, SME & Microfinance Academy awards gala held in Johannesburg, South Africa on 7th February. The Award is in respect of the Bankâ€™s innovation in e-payments for the delivery of social protection services on behalf of Malawi Government and developmental partners.
Ministry of Gender partnered First Capital Bank initially on a pilot basis to deliver Social Cash Transfers to beneficiaries in Balaka using the e-payment model in 2014 for 3 years on a programme funded by the Irish Government. The government has since entered into a fresh contract with First Capital Bank for four years owing to the massive success of the pilot programme. SCTP is a flagship programme within the Malawi National Social Support Programme (MNSSP). E-payment is also a focus of the Governmentâ€™s Roadmap for Digitisation where the intention is reportedly to digitise up to 60% of Government to People payments by 2021 with emphasis on the financial inclusion of the rural population.
The Ministry for Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare (MoGCDSW) plays a very pivotal role and have together with their banking partner, gained much experience over the years which has led to various process improvements and understandably a great reduction in the cost of delivery resulting into more money ending up in the hands of the beneficiaries as intended by the programme funders.
Commenting on the award, First Capital Bankâ€™s Head of Transactional Banking who also looks after the Government & International NGO portfolio of the Bank, Mr. Ewen Hiwa said the award was testament of the enormous work the bank in conjunction with Government and particularly the ministry of Gender has put in to perfect the e-payment model. â€śIt has been a great learning experience which also involved massive investment on our part in advanced IT technology and bringing experienced minds together to develop watertight processes???. Hiwa said the Bank has worked very closely with the ministry over the years but the most humbling has been witnessing the impact these safety nets have on the ultra-poor and marginalised communities. â€śAs a bank we now feel very attached to the programme and we will continue to invest and bring varied innovations for the ultimate benefit of these communities??? lamented Hiwa.