EDITORIAL: Mobile bond welcome

National Treasury
The National Treasury building in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The move by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) to introduce a mobile-based bond application and trading platform is a step in the right direction. It is a welcome democratisation of finance.

The Treasury Mobile Direct (TMD) service will make it easier for individuals to invest in government debt securities which offer guaranteed returns with no risk of default.

Individuals seeking to purchase T-bills and bonds have had to contend with a bureaucratic process that is at odds with the current state of digitisation of most services including investments. One has to read newspapers or go to the CBK website to find new auctions of the securities. Applications are then made on physical forms and dropped at CBK’s branches or currency centres. Once the results are out, investors will contact CBK to find out if their application was successful and the amounts they need to pay. The mobile platform seeks to aggregate all these services, allowing individuals to track new bond auctions, apply for the same and receive payment of maturing securities.

CBK says the platform will initially address transactions valued at Sh140,000 or below, with an option to raise the limit in the future.

The service gives small investors greater convenience and an opportunity to look beyond other investments including bank deposits that pay relatively lower rates of returns.