BANKERS Association of Zambia (BAZ) chairperson Mizinga Melu says it is encouraging to see that financial inclusion numbers have increased to 60.4 percent, 10 years after the Financial Literacy Week was launched.

And Bank of Zambia Governor Dr Denny Kalyalya says this year’s Financial Literacy Week theme “Build your Future: Be Money Smart” is anchored on the importance of planning for one’s future through making prudent and well-informed financial decisions.

Speaking during the launch of this years’ public awareness campaign for the Financial Literacy Week activities, Monday, Melu recalled that when Financial Literacy Week was introduced, financial inclusion numbers were low.

“This is a national event that comes under the theme; “Build your Future: Be Money Smart”. The great thing about this event is that this is the 10th year that we have been having it and so it’s no mini achievement. I remember very well when we started the financial literacy week, at the time, the financial inclusion numbers were very low. They were probably about 18 percent and they stayed at that level for a very long time and we only used to wish that maybe one day we will get to the 60 percent level,” she said.

“It is really good to see that 10 years later, we are at a point where financial inclusion has actually increased from 59.3 percent at the last count to where it is now, which is 60.4 percent. This is according to the FinScope survey. So it just shows that what we are doing here in terms of having the financial literacy week is working, we are bringing awareness to all the citizens for them to be just aware of the importance of being financially literate.”

Melu said this year’s theme speaks to individuals on the need to be financially literate.

“I think that the thing about the theme is that it really caters to the individual, it is not talking about everybody being money smart but it is saying you yourself build your future, you yourself be money smart. So it is placing the responsibility on you and I. It’s placing responsibility on the youth, on the children to say ‘how do I become money smart’. It is as basic as your parents giving you a little bit of money and so how do you put a little bit of money aside. When we talk about money smart and the financial literacy week, we have a tendency maybe of thinking it’s just for the youth. It’s for the children. But as a banker, trust me we have realized that financial literacy is actually for everyone,” she said.

“Everyone needs to be financially literate. There are so many areas where we just find ourselves as bankers dealing with a number of our clients and realizing that we need to work so hard to get them to a stage where we upskill their business acumen. Even now we have seen [that] the government has increased the CDF in all the different provinces. But even in there, our jobs as banks, how do we get the individuals who are participating in the CDF to be financially literate?”

And Melu said banks were working closely with law enforcement agencies to ensure that money was protected from fraudsters.

“We are seeing so many partnerships between banks and MNOs, banks and insurance companies, banks and the stock exchange where we are actually enhancing the digital agenda. This is good for enhancing financial literacy. It’s also important to focus on cyber attacks. How do you take care of your own money? You have your money in the bank, wallet, insurance companies but how do you protect it? So one of the things we focus on is to ensure you don’t share your pin with anybody,” she said.

“Cyber attacks are real out there and we are working very closely with the authorities, in particular, DEC and the police to just ensure that we continue to curb these fraudsters but they are out there and it is important that we continue protecting your money and you continue protecting your money yourself.”

And speaking at the same event, Bank of Zambia Governor Dr Denny Kalyalya said this year’s Financial Literacy Week theme was anchored on the importance of planning for one’s future through making prudent and well-informed financial decisions.

“This year’s theme “Build your Future: Be Money Smart” is anchored on the importance of planning for one’s future through making prudent and well-informed financial decisions now. The theme prompts all Zambian citizens, particularly young people, to own the responsibility of securing their financial future. The Financial Literacy Week activities continue to focus on young people in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions to help future adult generations be appropriately equipped to make sound financial decisions for their financial well-being,” he said.

“In the last 10 years, the campaigns have been targeted at creating awareness amongst children, youth and adults on the need to acquire the knowledge, and skills about personal financial management. With the acquired knowledge, they can have the confidence and motivation to make sound financial decisions and use appropriate financial services. This knowledge is expected to translate to improved financial well-being, and resilience of our citizens, and enable them to contribute to national development through improved productivity as well as job and wealth creation.”

And Dr Kalyalya said the use of digital platforms was expected to enhance revenue collection and contribute positively to the national Treasury.

“The use of digital financial platforms for the payment of retail and public services, including Government services has significant benefits to consumers and service providers alike. Digital platforms facilitate relatively safe, efficient and convenient service delivery and allows for tracking of financial transactions. With regard to Government related services, the use of digital platforms is
expected to enhance revenue collection and contribute positively to the national Treasury,” said Dr Kalyalya.

“This notwithstanding, the rise in the use of Digital Financial Services has also introduced significant risks for individuals as well as for financial service providers. To address these risks, there is a greater need to enhance cyber security and raise awareness about fraud to secure higher uptake and protect the consumers of digital financial services.”