KENYA – Standard Chartered Bank of Kenya has launched a mobile platform allowing investors to buy and sell bonds issued by the Kenyan government, marking increased automation of the KSh2.9 trillion (US$29bn) treasuries market.

This makes it the first commercial bank in Kenya to launch exclusive mobile phone bond trading.

Through the Standard Chattered (SC) Mobile App clients can buy or sell local currency government bonds and treasury bills without having to visit a branch to fill in forms.

The clients will also be able to view the list of available securities to be traded through the SC Mobile App for the trading day, see transaction history for previous deals submitted, and learn more about local government bonds trading through educational page.

“We are happy that this launch will go along away in supporting the government quest for financial inclusion,” Standard Chartered Bank Kenya head of wealth management, Paul Njoki said.

The financier now becomes the second entity to launch mobile traded bonds and bills after the Kenyan government launched the world’s first treasury bond in 2015 followed by M-Akiba two years later.

In January, Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) rolled out another mobile-based service dubbed-TMD, which enables users to place applications/bids for Treasury Bills and Treasury Bonds, receive auction results, notifications for payments made, query their CDS accounts, Treasury Bills and Bonds on offer.

The minimum investment amount for the SC Mobile traded bond has a face value of KSh100, 000 (US$1,000) while the maximum one can trade on the app is capped at KSh10 million (US$100,000).

“Client journey is completely paperless for trades less than KSh10 million (US$100,000) and we believe that the minimum amount will appeal to a larger number of clients,” Njoki said.

The lender is betting on the service to grow its wealth management business which contributes a significant part of its non-interest income.

StanChart’s service comes soon after CBK announced its own mobile-based bonds trading platform dubbed Treasury Mobile Direct (TMD).

CBK says its solution makes it easier for investors to process transactions in treasuries of KSh140,000 (US$1,400) and below.

The moves by StanChart and CBK could potentially take investing in bonds and T-bills to the mass market by eliminating the friction in the current market infrastructure.

Retail investors have been applying for the debt instruments on physical forms that are delivered to CBK branches and currency centres.

They have had to contact the CBK to confirm if their applications were successful and the amounts they are to pay.

The CBK platform will now aggregate all these services and others including request of statements and receipt of the cash value of maturing securities.