NAIROBI, April 11 (Reuters) - Kenyan lender CBA Group has agreed to make a market for the country’s debut mobile phone-based bond, guaranteeing investors an exit whenever they need it, officials said on Tuesday.
Kenya raised 150 million shillings ($1.45 million) with the three-year bond, called M-Akiba, becoming the first in the world to issue a government bond exclusively via mobile phone.
“They (CBA) will be the buyer to every seller and a seller to every buyer,” said Geoffrey Odundo, the chief executive of the Nairobi Securities Exchange.
CBA’s status as a market maker for the new bond followed negotiations with the government. Neither parties disclosed the costs of the provision of liquidity for the three-year life of the bond.
CBA was the first to start offering saving and lending products on mobile phones. In 2012, it launched M-Shwari on the M-Pesa mobile cash platform, owned by telecoms operator Safaricom.
More than the equivalent of $1.5 billion has since been lent to customers on M-Shwari since then in Kenya and in neighbouring nations where CBA operates, the bank said.
The second tranche of M-Akiba, worth 4.85 billion shillings is set to open in June and Wohoro Ndoho, the head of debt at the ministry of finance, said other mobile issues would follow.
“We do not envisage this as a one-off. This has to be a permanent part of our financial sector infrastructure to make sure the average Kenyan gets an opportunity to participate,” Ndoho said at a bell ringing ceremony for the bond.
About 108,000 Kenyans have registered on their mobile phones to invest in M-Akiba since last month, compared with just 20,000 existing retail investor accounts with the central bank for normal Treasury bonds, showing the potential for M-Akiba to help mobilise savings, Odundo said. ($1 = 103.3500 Kenyan shillings) (Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)