National Bank of Malawi told to stop ill-treating customers


While National Bank of Malawi has described the unreserved packing of customers in banking halls to update their accounts as a “positive response”, Forum for National Development (FND) has told the bank to stop treating customers in less humane terms.

Most NBM banking halls across the country were on Monday congested by customers who flocked to update their bank account details after the bank warned to block all un-updated accounts by Monday, 10th July, 2023.

The bank’s Chief Risk Officer, Charles Ulaya, told the local media that the exercise is a requirement of the Anti Money Laundering/­Combating Financing Terrorism Policy and is also required by the Financial Crimes Act “which requires customers to update their information periodically.”

However, FND through a Monday press statement signed by FND’s chairperson Bright Kampaundi and the National Coordinator Fryson Chodzi, has faulted the bank for failing to control the bad situation that marred the exercise on the closing date, Monday.

FND says it is worrisome that the exercise has brought bad experiences as the country witnessed first-hand jostling and overcrowding in banking halls where mothers with babies behind their backs, were pushed by crowds in fighting to get into banking halls.

The Forum says it is also disheartening that while there is a public outcry, NBM has chosen to be quite and behave in a business as usual manner while the customers who are supposed to be the kings are being ill-treated.

The statement further indicated that the bank should have implemented this KYC policy silently when its customers are coming for services and being asked to provide the information than threatening to block un-updated bank accounts.

“It’s sad that the bank is indifferent to the suffering of Malawians whom some had to queue as early as 5:00am just to be able to do the much touted Know Your Customer (KYC). Ironically, the very same people being ill-treated by the Bank, are the biggest asset that bank has and should the customers decide to close their accounts, the biggest loser will be the bank.

“NBM is abusing the loyalty that customers have with the bank and taking for granted. NBM must provide remedial actions to deal with this inhumane situation and provide a solution that shows that the bank values its customers. In the first place, the bank was not supposed to issue a threat to close bank accounts,” reads part of the statement.

FND has then called upon the NBM customers not to allow being treated in less humane terms just because the bank has issues of their own creation.

“As customers, we have the power within ourselves and always remember there are more dignified banks that we can opt for if NBM wants to treat the people otherwise. Let’s not allow ourselves to be reduced to lowest levels and be held at ransom by a bank that doesn’t care about its own clients,” reads another part.

Meanwhile, the bank has described the development as a positive response from customers and has since extended the exercise to 31 still August this year and threatened to block all un-updated bank accounts after that date.

“We extend our gratitude to our valued customers for their positive response to the KYC update. However, we have observed that certain customers, due to unforeseen circumstances, have been unable to update their KYC information. Therefore, we would like to inform you that the Bank has extended the deadline for submitting the required KYC information until 31st August 2023,” reads part of NBM response to the development.