Kenyans to Trade Equities on Safaricom Mobile Phones in 2016

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Safaricom Ltd., East Africa’s biggest mobile-phone operator, expects Kenyans to start trading stocks on their mobile phones early next year, using a product it developed to enable customers to buy government bonds, Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore said.

The service, known as M-Akiba, was introduced in Kenya in September as a way for low-income earners to buy fixed-income securities for as little as 3,000 shillings ($29). The government postponed the start of the service in October after debt costs surged.

“When we designed the product, we designed it for trading equities and then the government came along and they said ‘why don’t we do it for bonds as well,’” Collymore said in an interview in London on Tuesday. “We do intend to trade stocks. I think it will happen early next year.”

M-Akiba, derived from the Swahili word for savings, will run on Safaricom’s mobile-money platform, known as M-Pesa. The service earned Safaricom 32.6 billion shillings in the year through September, up 23 percent from a year earlier and accounting for almost half of non-voice revenue of 68.8 billion shillings. The company is 40 percent-owned by Newbury, England-based Vodafone Plc.

Mobile Economy

More people in Kenya have mobile-money accounts than any other country in sub-Saharan Africa, with ownership at 58 percent, according to the World Bank. More than half of adults who pay utility bills in East Africa’s biggest economy use a mobile phone to do so, the Washington-based lender said in a report in April.

The government had planned to offer 5 billion shillings of infrastructure bonds using M-Akiba in October, before the delay. The government may start using the service before the end of the year, Collymore said.

Source: Bloomberg (link opens in a new window)

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