Does Financial Literacy Influence Use of Mobile Financial Services In Malawi? Evidence from Malawi Household Survey Data

Mobile financial services are gaining prominence and could be a possible avenue for fast-tracking financial inclusion in developing countries, including Malawi. However, adoption and usage of such services remains low among the Malawi population. This study investigates the influence of financial literacy on financial behaviour of individuals in Malawi, specifically use of mobile phone-based financial transactions. Descriptive and econometric analyses were conducted using cross-sectional data obtained from the Reserve Bank of Malawi. Findings reveal that the likelihood of using mobile financial services increases with increasing levels of financial literacy, type of employment and peri-urban residence. Furthermore, men are more likely to transact on mobile phones than females and that although income levels matter in the use of mobile financial transactions, the magnitude of effect is negligible. Results suggest opportunities for expanding access to financial services and products such as differentiation in financial literacy education by characteristics of population including gender of users. Informal settings do not preclude expansion of digital payments, and therefore financial product innovation and addressing rural resident’s constraints to access mobile financial services is crucial.