Switching costs, Relationship banking and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises formal bank credit in Zambia

Working Paper
Published on 1 January 2014


Using data collected from a sample of MSMEs located in urban areas of five major districts in Zambia, this paper investigates the existence and size of switching costs among Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) when borrowing formal bank credit. Mphuka, Simumba and Banda (2013) find that MSMEs' selection of a 'main-bank' does not persist over time, signalling the absence of switching costs. Switching main banks also had no effect on lending interest rates – nor do banks use discounts on lending interest rates to attract borrowers from competitor banks. These results point to the existence of asymmetric information as the main explanation for the occurrence of high interest rates and low volume of credit allocated to MSMEs. The researchers suggest encouraging ‘relationship banking’ between commercial banks and MSMEs as a way of breaking down information barriers in order to reduce the upward mispricing of interest rates offered to these firms.


Chrispin Mphuka

University of Zambia

Joseph Simumba

Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research

Bernard Banda

University of Zambia