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Friday, Nov 17th

Kenya edges closer to bond trading on handsets

mobilemoneyfood

The Kenyan government is scouting for a consultant to design and develop a mobile based system that will make it easier for investors to participate in bond trading through their mobile phones.

The government is counting on the impressive performance of the mobile money services in the country to tap retail investors into the fixed income markets that have traditionally remained a preserve of the wealthy.

Retail participation in the Kenyan bond market currently stand at a paltry 3%, which industry players blame on the tedious manual process.

The bonds have traditionally been sold by fund managers, who charge investors management fees for every transaction, reducing the net earnings of the investors: a factor that has also contributed in making trading unpopular.

“They take something from 5 to 10% of what you sell to cover for the services rendered, and that is just too much,” said Abbie Munde a retail investor in the debt market who has used fund managers for the last ten years.

The firm that wins the tender is expected to design the prototype for the TMD Middleware software application and ensure that it is functioning correctly. The winner will also have to carry detailed testing that involves training schedule for all users of the system.

“The objective of the consultancy is to analyse, design, develop and implement the Treasury Mobile Direct (TMD) Middleware software,” read a notice from Treasury.

Once fully rolled out, by mid next year if all goes to plan, the scheme will require investors willing to trade through their cell phone to be registered as mobile money subscribers with the various operators in the country.

The telcos will then open electronic account with the Central Bank of Kenya on behalf of the investors. The accounts commonly known as CDS accounts, are a must have for anyone wishing to take part in debt auctions.

Although various countries have issued government bonds to retail investors through the internet, the mobile phone system would be the first of its kind.

“Based on the success of the other many mobile money services coupled with growing interest in government bonds of late especially by that retail market, we are anticipating that the roll out of the mobile phone platform will increase penetration by up to 20%,”said Haniel Wema from the Ministry of Finance

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