As the risk of the novel coronavirus looms in Malawi, commercial banks have instituted tight measures to ensure their customers and workers are safe.

In separate interviews, five out of the country’s eight banks said they are on guard and remain vigilant to respond to any changing situation in ensuring safety of the customers and employees.

FDH Financial Holdings Limited public relations officer Lorraine Lusinje said FDH Bank has instituted a full Covid-19 response committee to give special focus to the matter and monitor the situation for safety reasons.

“Among others, we are encouraging the use of digital platforms for transactions to mitigate queuing and visitation of banking halls. Further we have provided sanitisers, masks and gloves to all our staff and we are encouraging hand washing and hygiene at all critical points,” she said.

First Capital Bank (FCB) acting chief commercial officer Ewen Hiwa indicated that the bank has cancelled all regional and international travel as well as events requiring physical attendance by customers and employees.

“The bank has kept adequate stocks of key requirements for our business to ensure that there is minimum disruption to the provision of services and have enabled some of our colleagues to work remotely,” he said.

Similarly Ecobank Malawi marketing, brands and communications manager Takondwa Chirwa said tight measures have been put in place to contain the risks.

On Friday, National Bank of Malawi plc in a statement signed by the banks’ general manager Harold Jiya encouraged the use of digital payment platforms to ensure customers’ safety through reduced exposure to infectious risk factors.

“Our Mo626 Ice, Mo626 Digital+ and BankNet 360 platforms will make it possible for customers to transact from thier bank accounts without the need to handle hard cash or to visit a service centre or a service provider to make bill payments,” he said.

Spot-checks around Blantyre at the weekend showed that most banks have made available hand sanitisers, water buckets, hand washing soap as well as face masks to be used by their employees.