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M-Pesa cash ceiling to go up in bid to boost M-Akiba bond

Plans are in the offing to raise the daily mobile money transaction ceiling from the current Sh140,000 to accommodate higher purchases of the M-Akiba product launched on Thursday.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said the move is aimed at allowing those with a higher ability to buy the mobile-based government security instrument as the daily limitation may lock them out of the new investment.

“We are discussing with Central Bank of Kenya to see to what extent we can increase the daily limit to a higher amount to allow higher purchases. This is one way to allow as many Kenyans as possible to participate in Treasury bills, promote financial inclusion and boost our infrastructure financing,” said Mr Rotich.

The initial phase of the Sh5 billion government bond was launched on Thursday, with buyers allowed to take a minimum of Sh3,000 or a maximum of Sh140,000 a day exclusively via mobile phones.

The current offer runs until 10th April or until Sh150 million is raised with the remaining Sh4.85 billion expected to be floated in June.

Treasury has also planned a marketing drive before June to popularise the bond which attracts a 10 per cent interest paid bi-annually within a period of three years when it matures. It is also tax free.

M-Pesa which is the largest mobile money platform increased single limits from Sh35,000 in 2010 to Sh50,000 before the limit went up to the current Sh70,000. Vendors had complained of limitations of the channel especially in the purchase of air tickets.

Currently, one is allowed a maximum account balance is Sh100,000 but the daily transaction is capped at Sh140,000.

The CBK limits on e-payments amounts are aimed at curbing money laundering and fraud, but the new product may force further extension on the daily limits.

CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge, who was present at the launch, lauded the move, terming it a ‘transformational and a momentous milestone’ in deepening financial inclusion.

“This will dramatically change the savings culture of our people. The success of M-Akiba is a testimony of how collaboration can democratise finance and there are many other products coming to showcase Kenya as a hot bed for innovation beyond financial technology.”

The initiative that went live on Thursday involved the national Treasury as the issuer of the bond, CBK which issues bond on behalf of government), the Capital markets Authority as the capital markets regulator, Safaricom and Airtel as mobile network operators, the Nairobi Securities Exchange, where the bond shall be traded and listed among other players.

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