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Kenya has unveiled the world’s first mobile-only government bond, a service that will allow citizens to buy government bonds on their cell phones and mobile financial services.

A government bond is a bond issued by a national government, generally with a promise to pay periodic interest payments and to repay the face value on the maturity date. Government bonds are usually denominated in the country’s own currency.

Dubbed Akiba, a Swahili word to mean savings, the bond was first announced in 2015 as a way to give ordinary Kenyans access to the country’s capital markets as well as encourage a saving culture among the citizenry.

Through the service, investors can buy in increments as small as KES 3,000 (about $30) using their mobile phones, compared to the minimum of 50,000 shillings individuals had to spend previously to buy government bonds.

The bond will be offered on M-Pesa, as well as other mobile money networks. Investors can buy and sell the bonds on the Nairobi Securities Exchange via their phones.

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Coupon payments will be paid directly to their phones. Like M-Pesa, both smart phones and basic features phones can be used.

“The bond isn’t just about offering encouraging Kenyans to save. The Kenyan government needs a new pool of cheap money to finance large infrastructure projects and an upcoming election. Only 2% of government bonds in Kenya are bought and sold by individual investors,” the Kenyan Treasury wrote in a statement.

Last year, the IMF called on Kenya to lower its budget deficit. The country’s financing gap, expanded to 9.6% of gross domestic product last year, compared to 7.2% the year before, according to the World Bank.

This budget year, Kenya plans to raise 154 billion shillings ($1.5 billion) in external borrowing.

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This article has been adapted from Ptechmag.com

 

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