Baring any unforeseen circumstances, the Kenyan Government will make history on March 23, 2017 with the commencement of sale of its infrastructure bond exclusively via mobile phones.
The Government first announced it’ll float Ksh5 billion (US$48.5 million) bond, to be traded through the mobile phone-based M-Akiba platform using Safaricom’s M-PESA, back in 2015.
Before now, government bonds were the exclusive reserve of commercial banks or traders who are able to cough out huge sums without breaking much, or any, sweat. The process of purchasing the bonds was another sorry story; it was cumbersome, taking an average of two days to complete.
The mobile-only bonds is aimed at changing the above narrative as it allows investors to make purchases instantaneously. Its main purpose is to open the doors of the capital market to ordinary Kenyan citizens.
At the time of the announcement, the government stated Kenyans would be able to buy the bonds on the M-Akiba mobile platform for as low as Ksh3,000 (US$30) with Ksh140,000 (US$1,360) worth of bonds allowed per day.
After 2 years of delay due to clearance issues, the Kenyan government will now start selling the bonds tomorrow on M-Pesa as well as on other mobile money networks.
Kenyans can buy and sell the bonds on the Nairobi Securities Exchange using their mobile phones where records of their transactions will be stored. Also, coupon payments can be made through the mobile phone.
The bond sale will give the Kenyan government cash to finance large infrastructure projects – it’s an infrastructure bond after all – and give Kenyans an opportunity to save and participate in fundraising for nation building.