Savings: Kenya Launches World’s First Ever Mobile-Only Government Bond Service

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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.