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M-Akiba resumes trading at the NSE

The Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) Thursday resumed trading of the Sh150 million mobile phone-based bond after a system breakdown prompted its suspension on Wednesday.

NSE chief executive Geoffrey Odundo said the technical hitch that resulted in “messaging delays” had been resolved, paving the way for resumption of trading.

“We resumed trading today. The hitch has now been resolved. The market opened in the normal trading hours and all is well,” Mr Odundo told the Business Daily in an interview.

He described Wednesday’s problem as “a teething problem that was bound to occur”, adding that the bourse had overcome the glitches and that he expects seamless trading going forward.

Wohoro Ndoho, the director-general of public debt management office at the Treasury, said the system hitch was rectified on Wednesday night.
“It was a prudential matter really. Anticipate, stop, rectify then roll out,” said Mr Ndoho.

The trading of the bond in the secondary market had stopped on Wednesday, just 24 hours after it was launched.

Market insiders said the action was taken after reconciliation delays were found to make it possible for investors who had placed sale orders to receive payment while still retaining ownership of the papers.

The Treasury met the Sh150 million target days before the offer closed on April 5.

This pilot digital bond sale is meant to test the waters ahead of the Sh4.85 billion offer that President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to launch in June.

Investors in the digital bond are able to place sale or purchase orders through their phones using an Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) code that works on the Safaricom or Airtel mobile networks.

CBA Group early this week won the contract to serve as a counter-party during trading of the bond, and is paying investors, who decide to sell their bond holdings, through mobile phones.

The digital paper — a world first — is being promoted by government as yet another avenue for driving financial inclusion.

Investors, who did not get a piece of the mini-security in the primary market, have a chance to buy from the 5,692 investors who bought the government paper.

Official data after the bond sale showed that 102,632 people registered on the M-Akiba mobile phone bond platform but only 5.5 per cent actually invested in it.

Individual investors bought the bond in different chunks ranging from Sh3,000 to Sh1.13 million, the Treasury said, signalling that the sale was mainly dominated by big buyers and not the retailers it was meant to serve.

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